Ritholtz Dials Back Risk

Money manager and author Barry Ritholtz has been dialing back risk in his portfolio, using short-focused exchange-traded funds to hedge his long bets.

“We don’t think a recession is imminent, but we’ve watched too many pieces of the economic puzzle slow,” Ritholtz tells Barron’s. After a long bull run, he says, “this is a normal pullback that isn’t all that surprising.”

Ritholtz’s tactically allocated accounts were 86% long about six weeks ago, according to Barron’s. Now, they are about 50% long. His cash position has risen to about 30%. He says “90/90” days — those when volume falls at least 90% and at least 9 of 10 stocks lose ground, as happened on June 1 — often signal a shift. “They’re seen as a sign that the market’s psychology is shifting as institutions change their postures from accumulation to distribution,” he says, though he adds that it’s not proof the world is ending. “But it’s certainly a thumb on the scale,” he says.