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Talpins’s Element Is Betting on Sharp Market Reversal After Rout

Nishant Kumar

(Bloomberg) -- Jeff Talpins’s Element Capital Management is predicting that global markets are near a turning point and has begun betting on a sharp market reversal.

The $15 billion hedge fund firm told clients it has started deploying cash and is taking positions on the prospect that equities will gain. Element is also shorting the long end of the interest rate market.

In a note sent to clients Monday, the day before the S&P 500 bounced back with gains of more than 9%, the firm said the stimulus packages announced across continents to soften the economic blow from the coronavirus means the worst is over.

“As market participants digest the magnitude of these stimulative forces we believe that the narrative will soon shift,” the firm said in the note. “We believe that the speed of the reversal, and the shift in sentiment, could be massive when it happens.”

Global markets from stocks, bonds, commodities to currencies have suffered extreme volatility this month as investors assess the impact of the virus that has infected 438,000 people and killed 19,675 so far. Central banks and governments in countries from Japan to the U.S. are scrambling to minimize the damage with unprecedented spending packages aimed at countering the hit from the pandemic.

“While we don’t believe it’s possible to call a precise bottom, we do see signs of normalcy returning to certain market relationships and the powerful stimulus packages in play may mean the worst of the financial market upheaval is behind us,” the firm said.

Element’s hedge fund was down a few percentage points coming into March and was slightly up through the middle of this month, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Last year, the firm gained 12% due in part to a bullish equity wager that was taken off mid-year, Bloomberg reported in January.

The firm is maintaining more than 70% of its assets in cash, unencumbered securities and excess margin, even as counterparties increase their margin requirements, the letter said. Element also said it’s simplifying the portfolio to focus on more liquid instruments. A spokesperson for the New York-based firm declined to comment.

Element first started trading in 2005 as part of Vega Asset Management, and had annualized gains of about 15% from 2014 to 2019, while the broader macro strategy fell short.

(Updates with cash and liquid holdings positioning in penultimate paragraph.)

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