Bill Gross says QE3 Unlikely Even as Job Growth Slows
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said the Federal Reserve is unlikely to do a third round of quantitative easing even with the economy adding fewer jobs than forecast.
Central bankers are likely to “extend the extended period” language for longer in their policy statements, Gross said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene. The less-than-projected pace of jobs growth in May that the Labor Department reported today shows that “there is a persistency here. It’s back to our old new normal,” he said.
“We don’t see a QE3. There has been too much discussion and dissent within the Fed to permit that type of program,” Gross said in the interview from Pimco’s headquarters in Newport Beach, California. Given the current pace of growth and inflation “they will speak to a fed funds rate that persists for an extended period of time, which in effect caps interest rates in the process.”
Investors could seek higher real returns than those now offered from government debt through investing in shares of “conservative” companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), Merck & Co. or those of utilities, according to Gross.
“The Treasury market up to seven or eight years is negative in terms of real interest rates, and that’s not a positive for savers,” Gross said. “But if they took that money and invested it in a conservative stock, such as a Proctor or a Merck or a utility yielding 4 percent; then that’s 3.5 to 4 percent real yield in comparison to those negative real yields in the Treasury side. So you have to take a little bit of a chance in order to avoid getting your pocket picked here.”
I concur with Gross about the likelihood of QE3 in the near-term horizon and suggested the same thing in a recent interview on Market Ticker with Aaron Task. The key to that sentence is the phrase “near-term”.
Right now, the Fed does not want more froth in junk bonds, nor does it want higher commodity prices or $150 crude, especially since QE2 was a miserable failure in producing jobs or reviving housing.
However, should the economy enter a sustained downturn, and if commodity prices plunge (giving the Fed some breathing room), it’s a given the Fed will try something. Whatever the Fed tries will likely be good for gold.
Please see Why I Continue to Like Gold for a video discussion.
The problem with Gross’s dividend stock play is that it is likely all stocks get hit in another sustained downturn. A 4% yield may be nice, but not if it comes at the expense of a 25% haircut in equity prices.
With valuations stretched everywhere one looks, there is a lot to be said for waiting on the sidelines for better opportunities.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List