It’s Never Different This Time
The Founder, managing partner and director of research for Ironsides Macroeconomics LLC, is Barry C. Knapp. Barry spent nearly four decades on the street and makes ~75 appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business and additional financial media networks, annually. Barry’s investment strategy analysis was available only to institutional investors until he launched Ironsides Macro in 2019.
Here is my story and the case for subscribing to my work.
My interest in macroeconomics began during a period when Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson renewed the post-WWII J.M. Keynes and F.A. Hayek debate over the role of government in economic policy while studying economics at the University of Rhode Island, when I was not on the soccer field (earning my tuition). Art Laffer's supply-side theories, Al Kahn's deregulatory policies and Milton Friedman's classic liberal economic ideas were pivotal in U.S. and U.K. '80s recovery from the Great Inflation of the '70s. The battle between those drawn to the fatal conceit of central planning, and what Friedrich Hayek called 'the spontaneous economic order', is again a central economic question in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and can even be extended to the debate between the Bitcoin advocates and skeptics. Deficit financed government spending is at levels last experienced during WWII when Federal Reserve independence was sacrificed to explicit interest rate caps culminating in Fed Chairman Bill Martin’s “independence within, not of the government”, that led to the Great Inflation. Classic economic liberalism is in retreat in academia, public policymakers and street economics departments just as the world’s reserve currency is testing the limits of our sovereign debt borrowing capacity. You will get the historical perspective from a long-time participant here.
I have worked in a variety of capacities in my nearly four decades on the street, in the 1980's I began my career as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, then completed an MBA in 2 years at night while working for Fidelity Investments. I spent the 90's in equity derivatives at Lehman Brothers during a period of rapid product innovation when technology was first utilized to implement modern portfolio theory. We created sector swaps using basket trading that preceded ETFs, used equity index and bond options, futures and basis trades to help investors implement tactical asset allocation, and swapped cash and carry stock index arbitrage to money market funds.
In the 2000's I moved into principal trading at Lehman as my interest in macroeconomic strategy became my primary focus. Just prior to the bankruptcy I had agreed to move into research as the U.S. Equity Portfolio Strategist, a position I carried to Barclays Capital through the bankruptcy. For the first half of the 2010's I continued in this role where I wrote a weekly report which built into a distribution list of ~10,000, I appeared ~60 times per year on CNBC, Bloomberg, BNN (Canada) and Fox Business. I met with ~300 institutional investing clients per year. The move to research subjected my analysis to scrutiny from supervisory analysts, research management and colleagues and most importantly, the roughly 10,000 clients on my research list and the 300 client meetings per year. You will not find hyperbolic, unsupportable and unactionable assertions in our work.
In mid-2014 through mid-2016 I moved to BlackRock Financial Management to help manage ~$40bn in unconstrained fixed income funds. My research expanded on my long tenure at Lehman/Barclays Capital, using my focus on macroeconomic history and theory to better inform views on the cyclical and secular business cycle trends. The mandate was to solve for a broader range of asset classes using macroeconomic ideas including domestic and international fixed income, currencies and equities.
In 2017 and 2018 I returned to capital markets research at Guggenheim Securities where I was a senior managing director and head of macroeconomic and public policy research. My return to the sell side allowed me to reintroduce my work to investing clients with a broader mandate than I had at Barclays.
The next stage is Ironsides Macroeconomics LLC, an independent economic and public policy investment strategy consultancy. You should expect an investor’s perspective on the economic and policy outlook.
Integral to our approach is utilizing corporate or micro data to analyze macroeconomic secular and cyclical trends. Additionally, we have long written reports under the title, 'It's Never Different This Time' underscoring our use of historical analogs to better inform the business cycle. We analyze economics and policy from the lens of a long-time market participant, in other words, our focus is on sustainable trends and assets we believe that are either under, or over, valued given our economic and policy outlook, as well as risks that are underappreciated by markets.
We will offer forecasts and asset allocation for major asset classes, equities, interest and exchange rates primarily, but not exclusively, for the US.
Products & Services
If you subscribe for our free content, you will receive a summary of our weekly note every Saturday morning. We also offer a weekly podcast on Monday’s utilizing content from our weekly notes. At present those are free, that may change as the product is growing in popularity. You will also occasionally receive the full notes when we believe the note as an important longer-run theme we want more widely distributed.
Paid subscribers receive the full notes, these are ~2000-word reports with 8-12 graphs and tables, our market measures of risk utilizing derivative markets and our decades of experience, valuation tables and specific equity sectors and cross asset class recommendations. The weekly notes are released on Saturday mornings at 6am eastern. We began this discipline at Barclays, it forces us to provide actionable information regardless of the strength of our conviction. Early in our career we were told, every day you do not sell a stock (or asset) you own, is a decision to buy. Some weeks we will pound the table, other weeks will tell you which way the risks are skewed. Consequently, we endeavor to inform your investment process continuously to help you make high probability outcome investment decisions. Additionally, on busy data days we release flash podcasts for paid subscribers summarizing the implications of data or policy events. There will be periodic flash update notes intraweek when we have something important to say. We also release client presentations and make the charts available to you for your own use. Finally, full subscribers are encouraged to contact me with questions, and we will provide timely and thoughtful responses as soon as possible.
We structured the business so that we could broaden our product beyond our traditional institutional client base. We made the basic subscription price an approachable $89/month or $999/year, if you are an institutional client, we will work with your voting system, or if you pay for research using trading commissions please contact us about our senior advisory role with Macro Risk Advisors, a NY broker dealer specializing in equity derivatives.
Barry C. Knapp
Director of Research
Follow me on social media for additional content and video clips from the ~75 television appearances I make annually…
Twitter: Ironsides Macro @barryknapp