'Big Short' investor Steve Eisman is worried about the bond market: 'It's where the pain will be'

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Steve Eisman, the investor known for predicting the financial crisis as depicted in “The Big Short” book and movie, thinks the bond market will be hit the hardest in the next recession, the money manager told Bloomberg television on Thursday.

“Corporate debt is not going to cause the next recession, it’s where the pain will be in the next recession,” explained the Neuberger Berman Group portfolio manager.

If a recession hits, people will lose money in the bond markets because there is so much less liquidity, he said. Eisman predicts big losses in triple-B corporate debt and high-yield.

Eisman is not the only notable investor worried about the corporate bond market. Bond titan Jeff Gundlach told CNBC Tuesday the trouble brewing there “is so much worse today than it was in 2006.”

However Eisman doesn’t think this is a systemic problem. He qualified his fears by saying that since 2016 “I think the financial system in the United States is safe.”

Safe but volatile, he said. “The biggest current risk is the trade war.” Although ultimately confident the U.S. will make a trade deal with China, he said “if there’s a full blown trade war, all bets are off.”

Eisman said people will have to deal with the volatility in the meantime, an environment he finds himself most comfortable in. But you wont find him betting on new companies coming through the tech IPO pipeline like Lyft and ride-sharing company Uber, which is scheduled to go public on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

Eisman said companies like Lyft and Uber are “dangerous” and “difficult” to invest in because they are not valued on traditional value metrics. Getting involved with companies like that at an early stage is difficult because the valuation doesn’t really matter, so you’re trying to figure out what’s the next incremental data point that is going to matter, he explained.

“It’s a bit like shorting a ghost,” he said.

Eisman’s largest short is home-finder website Zillow. The stock is an internet platform company that’s trying to become a financial services company, incorporating house flipping into its business model, Eisman said.

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