Scaramucci on GameStop: ‘My heart is with the people; my wallet is with Steve Cohen’

February 3, 2021, 2:00 PM UTC

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Anthony Scaramucci is torn—fiscally, emotionally.

The founder and managing director of SkyBridge Capital, a New York City firm specializing in hedge fund investments, says the recent stock market drama centering on GameStop pit his sentiments against his economic interest.

Last week, retail investors burst out of the online Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets to bid up shares of GameStop, the beleaguered video game retailer and shopping mall fixture. The unexpected, overwhelming interest caught hedge funds off guard, forcing ones who had sold the corporate laggard’s shares “short” into a perilous, bankruptcy-grazing “short squeeze.”

Scaramucci joined Fortune’s Balancing The Ledger show to discuss his view of the debacle. “My heart is with the people; my wallet is with Steve [Cohen],” Scaramucci said, referring to the billionaire New York Mets baseball team owner whose hedge fund took a severe beating during the market melee.

Scaramucci, a financier and showman who hosts the SkyBridge Alternatives, or SALT conference in Las Vegas, clarified that Cohen is a “personal friend” who manages about 10% of SkyBridge’s wealth. Cohen’s fund, Point72 Asset Management, has “several hundred million dollars” of SkyBridge’s money, he said.

Brokerages caught in the middle of the GameStop trading chaos “made a mistake” when they temporarily blocked investors from buying GameStop shares during the frenzy, Scaramucci said. At the time, speculation ran rampant that brokers—namely, upstart Robinhood—made a back-room deal with hedge fund clients to deflate the GameStop bubble.

Robinhood and other brokers said they had no choice but to halt certain transactions as they faced ballooning credit risk. “All that [ban] does is it enforces or re-emphasizes to common people that the system is rigged,” Scaramucci said.

“We can debate whether or not there should be a bee swarm attack to blow out a ‘short’ position and to crush hedge fund managers,” Scaramucci continued. “But under the current rules, it is” allowed.

Scaramucci said the fallout from the situation could prompt policymakers to pass regulations with, in his view, deleterious effects. “This could be a precursor to a potential transaction tax for Wall Street,” Scaramucci said, warning that would be “a disaster for Robinhood and for broad swaths of Wall Street.”

Scaramucci touched on other subjects during the interview, including SkyBridge’s recent launch of a Bitcoin fund now worth nearly $400 million. He said he planned to create a cryptocurrency fund ever since leaving the White House, where he worked for a 10-day stint as Donald Trump’s White House communications director in 2017, a spell he described as “a debacle.”

“When I got back to the firm, I registered the URL,” Scaramucci said. (His firm is planning to file soon for permission with regulators to create a Bitcoin mutual fund, he added.)

Scaramucci made several investment forecasts too. He predicted the Biden administration “will be lighter touch on regulation than the Obama administration,” an optimistic outlook for businesspeople such as himself.

Scaramucci said he thinks Bitcoin will “easily” hit $100,000 per coin by the end of the year, a forecast that would obviously benefit his own fund. And he believes Coinbase, America’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, will exceed its rumored $60 billion market valuation when it goes public as soon as later this month.

“It’s gonna trade higher than that, I think,” said Scaramucci, one among many newly bullish cryptocurrency converts in the hedge fund world.

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