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Merrill Lynch: Investment Wisdom From the 'Guru of Goa'

Everyone’s heard of the Oracle of Omaha—Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A). On Jan. 9, Merrill Lynch’s (BAC) chief global investment strategist, Michael Hartnett, inducted a new savant into the investing pantheon: the Guru of Goa. Goa, a state on the west coast of India, is a long way from Nebraska.

In a piece for clients headlined The Guru of Goa, Hartnett wrote: “Once upon a time on a beach in Goa an investor explained to a young strategist the three secrets to making money in the markets.”

Intriguing. As it turns out, the “three secrets” aren’t exactly drawn from ancient Vedic wisdom. They are:

1. The Macro Trade: Buy/sell the assets most sensitive to the economies where rates and earnings are likely to surprise the most to the upside/downside;

2. The Liquidity Trade: Identify where liquidity is most ample and buy the assets most likely to benefit from the liquidity;

3. The Contrarian Trade: Short the assets the consensus loves and long whatever the consensus hates.

I e-mailed Hartnett to ask who the guru and acolyte were. He confessed that he was the young strategist but wouldn’t divulge the name of the guru, except to describe the person as “one of the great investors” in Japan and emerging markets of the past 20 years.

Who will be next? The Expert of Uzbekistan?

Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor. His Twitter handle is @petercoy.

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