Riffing on Markets

Michael Belkin, BS 86
Fund Manager Adviser, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Based 30 minutes by ferry from Seattle, Michael Belkin plays guitar in a rock band named The Refusers. But despite his distance from Wall Street and touring schedule, Belkin’s stock forecasts have attracted a loyal following among hedge fund and portfolio managers across the country and overseas.

“Instead of holding my stomach and managing a fund myself, I’m advising fund managers,” says Belkin, who writes a weekly newsletter called the Belkin Report. “It allows me to work from home and be with my family, but I’m affecting people’s thinking.”

For more than 20 years, Belkin has been applying a forecasting model that he developed using time-series analysis and probabilities to make calls on stocks, markets, and industries. His first client was George Noble, a Fidelity top-performing overseas fund manager who began his own hedge fund. “I was well known in those days for calling the top in the Japanese market,” Belkin recalls.

Another one of Belkin’s claims to fame is predicting the dot-com crash in early 2000, when he called tech firms “C.R.A.P.”—companies without revenues and profits. Often contrarian, Belkin more recently declared Apple stock highly overvalued at the end of last year. Apple shares have dropped 15 percent since then.

Before striking out on his own, Belkin spent five years at Salomon Brothers after graduating from Berkeley. He transferred to Cal from Santa Monica Community College after working in the music industry and fixing up and selling houses. He already had concluded that markets could be exploited using statistical models.

“I spent my time at Berkeley in the stat department and on the computer, applying econometric models to systematic trading. I really loved the spirit of the place,” he says. “I could do what I wanted, which was argue with my professors and make my own way against the grain.” He’s been going against the grain ever since.

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