Michael Burry of ‘The Big Short’ Slams Virus Lockdowns

Michael Burry, the doctor-turned-investor who famously bet against mortgage securities before the 2008 financial crisis, has taken to Twitter with a controversial message: lockdowns intended to contain the coronavirus pandemic are worse than the disease itself.

Government-directed shutdowns in the U.S., which led to millions of job losses and may trigger one of the country’s deepest-ever economic contractions, aren’t necessary to contain the epidemic and have disproportionately hurt low-income families and minorities, Burry argued in a series of tweets over the past two weeks. He also said some controversial treatments for Covid-19, such as the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, should be made more widely available.

Burry, Predictor Of Mortgage Collapse, Bets On Farmland, Gold
Michael Burry Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Burry earned his M.D. at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, but decided to become a professional investor after making hugely profitable bets in the stock market. He shot to fame after his hedge fund’s bearish mortgage wagers were chronicled in “The Big Short,” an Oscar-winning movie based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis.

Although Burry has mostly kept a low profile since then, he started sharing his views more widely last year to warn of a central-bank fueled “bubble” in passive investment products. He’s now focusing on the outbreak that has shuttered economies, killed almost 75,000 people worldwide and changed how millions of people live and work.

“Universal stay-at-home is the most devastating economic force in modern history,” Burry wrote in an email to Bloomberg News. “And it is man-made. It very suddenly reverses the gains of underprivileged groups, kills and creates drug addicts, beats and terrorizes women and children in violent now-jobless households, and more. It bleeds deep anguish and suicide.”

Burry, whose utterances are closely watched by the financial community, began tweeting on March 23, describing his handle as the “real personal account of the real weird one from the book and movie, etc.” He said he began speaking out because of how people were suffering from measures taken to contain the pandemic. “Unconscionable,” is how he described job losses in the U.S., which have caused a once-unthinkable 10 million people to apply for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks. He earlier confirmed the authenticity of his tweets in an email interview with BNN Bloomberg.

If COVID-19 testing were universal, the fatality rate would be less than 0.2%. This is no justification for sweeping government policies, lacking any and all nuance, that destroy the lives, jobs, and businesses of the other 99.8%.
— michaeljburry (@michaeljburry) March 23, 2020