by David Stockman • March 24, 2016
That’s nearly a 90% haircut and VRX was no microcap penny stock. It was a giant inhabitant of a hedge fund hotel.
Needless to say, the cliff-diving pattern in the graph below provides evidence that the ticking bombs in the casino are of the neutron variety. In this case, the hotel may be still standing but the inhabitants have been ionized. On a single day last week, hedge funds lost $5.3 billion in value.
Condign justice, some might say, for the likes of rank gamblers like William Ackman (Pershing Square) and Jeffrey Ubben (ValueAct Holdings) who lost $700 million each that day. The fact that they have successfully promoted themselves for so long as masters of the universe, however, is the real moral of the story.
The financial markets and media have been so corrupted by central bank bubble finance that they did not even recognize that Valeant was a monumental scam and that Ackman and Ubben are snake oil salesman in $5,000 suits. Presently it will become clear that the hedge fund hotels are heavily occupied by many more of the same.
Alas, Valeant wasn’t caught selling poisoned pills or torturing kittens during the last seven months. What it was doing for the past seven years——aggressively pursuing every one of the financial engineering strategies that are worshipped and rewarded in the Wall Street casino——finally came a cropper.
Indeed, Valeant’s evolution during that period arose straight out of the financial engineering playbook. That is, it was a creature of Goldman Sachs and the various dealers, underwriters, hedge funds and consulting firms which ply the Bubble Finance trade.
At the end of the day, the latter have turned the C-suites of corporate America into gambling dens by attracting, selecting and rewarding company-wrecking speculators and debt-crazed buccaneers to the top corporate jobs.
In this case, the principal agent of destruction was a former M&A focussed consultant from McKinsey & Co, Michael Pearson, who became CEO in 2008.
Pearson had apparently spent a career in the Dennis Kozlowski/Tyco school of corporate strategy. That is, advising clients to buy, not build; to slash staff and R&D spending, not invest; to set ridiculously ambitious “bigness” goals such as taking this tiny Canadian pharma specialist from its $800 million of sales to a goal of $20 billion practically overnight; and to finance this 25X expansion with proceeds from Wall Street underwriters, not internally generated cash.