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Wall Street sage Barton Biggs dies

July 16, 2012: 1:11 PM ET

Barton Biggs, a former Morgan Stanley global strategist and pioneer of the hedge fund industry, has died.

Morgan Stanley (MS) chief executive James Gorman disclosed Briggs' death Monday in a memo to employees. A spokeswoman for the bank said Briggs died Saturday after a suffering from a blood infection. He was 79.

"Barton left an indelible mark on our business, our culture and our shared notion of leadership at Morgan Stanley," Gorman wrote. "He was known as an independent thinker, colorful writer and one of the pioneers of emerging markets investing, and our firm benefited from his vision."

Biggs co-founded one of the first hedge funds, Fairfield Partners, in 1965. And in 1973, he joined Morgan Stanley as a general partner and managing director.

In 2003, Biggs left the firm to form Traxis Partners, a multi-billion dollar hedge fund based in Greenwich, Conn., with fellow Morgan banker Madhav Dhar.

"Traxis lost a dear friend and an inspiring leader. And the financial industry lost a giant," Traxis fund managers wrote in a letter to clients.

Biggs was known for his prescient market calls, including a prediction in 1999 that the bubble in technology stocks would burst and cause a recession.

Despite his reputation for accuracy, Biggs admitted to underestimating the 2008 market crash.

Related: Biggs in 2008: Fears are overblown

"I really was most wrong about how bad 2008 was going to be," Biggs told Charlie Rose in March 2011.  "Fortunately, I was most right about stocks being very cheap in March of 2009."

The author of several books, Biggs studied creative writing at Yale under the American poet Robert Penn Warren. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before earning a degree from the New York University Graduate School of Business.

He is survived by his son, two daughters and nine grandchildren.

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