PIMCO’s Gross Calls Liquidity Action ‘Monetary Red Bull’

Fear what’s to follow, says famed fixed-income manager

The always-colorful Bill Gross employed an energy drink metaphor to describe recent action from the world’s central banks.

Speaking with CNBC on Monday, the chairman and CIO of PIMCO said the massive amounts of liquidity being pumped into markets by global central banks amount to "monetary Red Bull.” He added that investors should fear what comes next.

Bill GrossGross (left), whom the network notes is a vocal critic of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program that is injecting $75 billion a month into financial markets to jumpstart the U.S. economy, said that the Bank of Japan's own foray into massive bond buying was the equivalent of the popular energy drink, helping to give wings to the stock market's big rally.

"Financial markets are really feasting on an anticipated Japanese flavored 'Red Bull,'" Gross said. He argued that low interest rates, surging credit and excessive liquidity were creating a "zombie element" to global economic activity.

"We don't necessarily endorse this Red Bull product, but we recognize its ability to energize financial markets," Gross added. "Monetary Red Bull can feel good for a while, it doesn't have many calories, but it does have some negative consequences down the road" on asset prices, he said.

He warned that zero interest rates would eventually be a drag on earnings growth, saying that cheap money led to relatively compressed margins, negative growth and layoffs.

Gross also noted that ever since the demise of the gold standard, the total value of global credit markets has expanded exponentially, from about $3 trillion in the early 1970s to approximately $56 trillion today.

The sheer size of credit markets, combined with persistently low interest rates, raises the question of whether monetary policy is conducive to inflation-adjusted growth, he said.

"It's a fair question to ask," Gross said, "whether that credit can keep on expanding at zero percent interest rates, and whether or not the magic elixir of real interest rates that we had in the 70s, 80s, 90s and up until the last five years will produce the results we've had in the past."   

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