Categories Billions Print Media Recap

From The Trader’s Desk: All’s Well that Ends Well

Billions Season 7 Episode 12: ‘Admirals Fund’

by Lady Trader | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | November 3, 2023

And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through (and I mean to go on and on and on)
We Are The Champions – Queen

All’s well that ends well. Was there any doubt that Axe, Wendy, Chuck, and the rest of the rebels would come out on top this episode? They have come through the fire and are all better for it. Even though I think we all kind of knew how the show would end, it was still satisfying. There has been many a series finale over the past few years that has had fans taking to social media and voicing their disappointment (think Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Lost) but Billions will not be one of those. This was a great ending and sendoff for a series and a cast of characters that had become near and dear to our hearts.

Back in October of 2021 at the end of Season 5, I wrote a farewell to Bobby Axelrod and to Billions, as it looked like Damian and the character of Axe had left the Billions building for good. After re-reding that post, all the sentiments still ring true. I encourage you to check it out (since it will save me from retyping it) while I focus on what I liked from “Admirals Fund”.

Take down of Prince was financial and it was glorious!

I was so happy that the show got back to it’s roots and the demise of Prince was financial and trading in nature. The series went in a political direction this season with Prince running for President, and it really wasn’t my cup of tea. It was so satisfying to see everyone working together, using their unique strengths to make the plan work. There were a lot of moving parts so let’s break it down.

Kate joining the conspiracy was key. Once she was on board, she was able to let Wendy, Taylor and Wags know about the video taping Prince was doing in the office. That set up Wendy recruiting Philip and having them perform Philip’s “I want no part of this mutiny” part for the cameras perfectly. Once Kate seemed to rat out Wendy, Taylor, and Wags to Scooter, it cemented her loyalty to Prince in his eyes, and Philip’s video did the same. Key pieces were now in place.

Once Prince had the fund go to all cash and Philip was charged with allocating the funds to reinvest, the game was afoot! Philip would concentrate the investments in the natural gas sector. Chuck would plant the story (with help from Charles Sr.) of nat gas companies colluding with Russia, China, and Iran on price fixing, which would send the stocks cratering.

Rumors around stocks or sectors are sometimes worse than the real stories. Speculation, because it is unconfirmed, leads to something the market hates: uncertainty. Once Mafee started seeing the rumors on fintwit (aka financial Twitter) the stocks were off to the races to the downside. I will frequently check X (formerly Twitter) to see what the rumors are on a stock if I see an unusual move. Mafee is ready to buy the names at the bottom, because he knows that Chuck will hold a press conference to tell the world that there is no collusion, and the stories were just rumors. Those nat gas names will take off and Axe Global will make billions. As an aside, if I had been in on the plan, I would have shorted the names before the open, cover them before Chuck’s press conference, then buy them up at the lows of the day. That way you would be making money both on the downturn and the upswing.

Back at MPC, Bill and Victor are freaking out because they see their portfolios tanking. As active managers, their instinct would be to stop the bleeding and pivot into other sectors. However, Philip has the perfect response – trust the algo. Because Kate had Winston recalibrate the risk management of his algorithm to focus away from profit, the algorithm most likely stopped the accounts from closing the position earlier. In my strategies, I have hard stopped built into the trades. For example, if I have a position that takes a loss of 8%, it closes the position, no questions asked. It protects me from scenarios like what was going on at MPC. However, I also have a way of manually closing positions if I see a news/event that would cause a sharp decline in my position. Something Bill and Victor would have definitely done once they saw the stories around the sector. As active managers they see things that quantitative algorithms don’t see.

Because most hedge funds trade on leveraged accounts (meaning you can trade a certain value above your account’s value), the losses are causing margin calls. When you have a margin call, you need to sell other things in your portfolio to bring the account up to the minimum amount your broker allows in your account. MPC accounts are getting margin calls, so they must not only sell other securities in the portfolios but pledge their stakes in any private equity they own. A shorter way of saying all of this? MPC is wiped out.

Prince will get no reprieve from the SEC or the Exchanges by way of reversing the trades.

Read the rest of the original article at Fan Fun with Damian Lewis