October 3, 2011

PIMCO’s Gross: ‘New Normal’ Best Case Scenario, Global Recession Worst

Profits cannot grow unless partnered with benefits for labor, Gross says

PIMCO's Bill Gross PIMCO's Bill Gross

There is only a “New Normal” economy at best and a global recession at worst to look forward to, PIMCO Chairman Bill Gross writes in his monthly commentary for October.

“If anything, sovereign balance sheets resemble an overweight diabetic on the verge of a heart attack,” Gross writes. “Still, if global policymakers could focus on structural as opposed to cyclical financial solutions, New Normal growth as opposed to recession might be possible."

He then lists several structural roadblocks he and PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian have publicly identified over the past several years:

  1. Globalization has hollowed developed economy labor markets.
  2. Technology has outdated entire industries that produce physical as opposed to cloud-oriented goods and services–books, records, postal letters and DVDs among the most recent dinosaurs.
  3. An aging demographic is now favoring savings as opposed to consumption in almost all developed nations.

“Globalization and technological innovation have been extremely negative influences on domestic wages and employment,” he continues. “China and 'cloud space' ” have favored cheaper consumption, but have been decidedly job unfriendly in developed economies if observers were to be honest about it. Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” has been destructive of product and related labor markets yet has failed to recreate many jobs in the process. In order to maintain our caloric intake, policies favoring debt accumulation as opposed to savings took hold.

“Almost all remedies proposed by global authorities to date have approached the problem from the standpoint of favoring capital as opposed to labor. If the banks could just be stabilized, if the 'markets' could just be elevated back in the direction of peak 401(k) levels, if interest rates could just be lower so that borrowers would inevitably take the bait, then labor–job creation–would inevitably follow. It has not."

Gross concludes that there are no double-digit investment returns anywhere in sight for owners of financial assets. Bonds, stocks and real estate, he writes, are overvalued because of near zero percent interest rates and a developed world growth rate closer to zero than the 3% to 4% historical norms.

“There is only a ‘New Normal’ economy at best and a global recession at worst to look forward to in future years," he says.

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