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HOWARD MARKS FEATURED IN BLOOMBERG OPINION  On April 1, 2020, a Bloomberg Opinion piece, authored by Robert Burgess, former global executive editor in charge of financial markets for Bloomberg News, discussed the current uncertainty that investors are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Featured in this article was Howard Marks, Beta Pi ’64. 

After mentioning the efforts made by “fiscal and monetary” authorities to maintain the strength of the stock market, Mr. Burgess referenced two developments arising out of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank. JPMorgan’s research department pronounced that stocks “have seen their lows”. However, JPMorgan’s asset management division was recommending not to buy at this time.  

To help determine which of JPMorgan’s recommendations to follow, Mr. Burgess said, to arrive at the best direction to take, “…it’s not uncommon for different parts of the same financial firms to have opposing views. And contrasting views are what makes markets happen. But to cut through the noise, it’s often best to seek out the best and the brightest, and in that regard, few on Wall Street compare with the legendary Howard Marks, whose Oaktree Capital Group LLC oversees about $125 billion. In a career that extends all the way back to the 1960s, Marks has seen it all - from the Vietnam War to the oil embargo of the 1970s, rampant inflation, double-digit interest rates, 1987’s Black Monday crash, catastrophic terrorist attacks on the U.S., a financial crisis and seven recessions. If that’s not impressive enough, consider that Warren Buffett once said that ‘when I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they’re the first thing I open and read.’ So, what did his latest memo released late Tuesday say? In essence, stay cautious.” The memo was dated March 31, 2020. 

As part of his reasoning, Brother Marks explains the difference between the recession in 2008 and what is happening today. In 2008, the recession was due to the questionable stability of our financial institutions, there was “no obvious threat to life and limb”. Accordingly, with the highly contagious effects of the coronavirus, there are additional negative considerations that probably will result in further lowering stock market values.  

Mr. Burgess then goes on to explain why a cautionary approach is appropriate.     

Howard Marks, Beta Pi ’64, was Chairman of the Penn Endowment Fund from 2001 to 2010. As Chairman, he led Penn through the 2008 recession. Penn’s endowment fared much better than any other Ivy League endowment fund during that crisis. Over the years, he has endowed several faculty positions and scholarships at Penn. Nevertheless, he has fond memories of his time at Beta Pi when the Chapter House was located at 3900 Locust Street. As recently as November 29, 2018, he appeared at the Beta Pi Chapter House at 3916 Spruce Street as a guest speaker. At that time, his appearance at the Chapter House was described as “the talk of the campus”.