Just over two years ago, at the Milken global conference, the head of Apollo Group Leon Black said that “this is an almost biblical opportunity to reap gains and sell” adding that his firm has been a net seller for the last 15 months, ending with the emphatic punchline that Apollo is “selling everything that is not nailed down.”
Roughly at that time the great stock buyback binge began, which coupled with two more central banks entering the stock levitation “wealth effect” bonanza, provided ample opportunity for the biggest asset managers in the world to sell into.
But while we knew that both “vanilla” institutions and hedge funds were actively selling in the public markets, it was not until last week when we got the most candid glimpse of just how much. We described it last week when citing Bank of America who said that “BofAML clients were big net sellers of US stocks in the amount of $4.1bn, following four weeks of net buying. Net sales were the largest since January 2008 and led by institutional clients—after three weeks of net buying, institutional clients’ net sales last week were the largest in our data history.”
Today, we got definitive confirmation that