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Gundlach Sees a Stock Drop, Calls US Debt Growth 'Shocking'

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U.S. investors are facing an ugly future thanks to a booming trade deficit, rapidly expanding budget deficit and ballooning interest payments on government debt, according to DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach, who also says the stock market likely will end the year on the downside.

“The U.S. interest expense is projected by the [Congressional Budget Office] to explode higher starting yesterday,” he said, referring to CBO projections that the country’s interest cost will grow from representing about 1.25% of the gross domestic product in 2015 to 3% in 2030.

Plus, the budget deficit itself could grow to 11% to 13% of GDP. “This is something that is getting more and more attention, and I think it has to,” Gundlach said.

Turning to President Donald Trump, whose election he predicted, “It’s really shocking that the president ran on the promise of eliminating the national debt, and here it is at $22 trillion and going higher by about $1.5 trillion a year in a growing economy,” he said.

Gundlach also highlighted the growth in the trade deficit over the past two years — from $500 billion to $600 billion. “Donald Trump is a $100 billion man,” he said.

In his “Highway to Hell” webcast Tuesday, Gundlach shared other dire predictions — such as slowing growth in the global economy — using 70 charts.

As for stocks, “I think they’ll go negative on a year-to-date basis, probably sometime during the second quarter [or] early third quarter,” he said.

Gundlach says that despite the recent jump in stocks — which came after the Federal Reserve made a “remarkable 180-degree turn” on interest rate hikes in early January — the U.S. stock market “was and still is in a bear market.”

As for volatility, “We’ve already had a pretty strong zig. I’m expecting before long a zag,” he said.

Gundlach also had a cautionary tale for those who believe that equities generally go up over the long term: “People who say that stocks go up over all 30-year timeframes have to look at Japan,” where the benchmark TOPIX index has dropped roughly one-third over the 30 years since the bursting of Japan’s bubble economy.

In the short term, he says the one-year Treasury bond is the best “risk-free asset.”

MMT, College Bribery Scandal

The DoubleLine executive also criticized modern monetary theory, which argues that the U.S. can print dollars to cover its rising debt. Gundlach called this thinking “complete nonsense” and believes it could cause a “significant boycott” of long-term bonds.

Plus, he said: “It sounds good for a first-grader. What happens when the economy turns down?”

With expectations that the markets and economy could hit a rough patch or two by the next election, “That means anybody other than an incumbent president would win,” Gundlach explained, “which kind of means that we’re headed toward this experiment of modern monetary theory.”

Turning to Tuesday’s headline-grabbing college cheating scandal, he said this news “doesn’t do all of us in the world of finance a lot of reputational good,” referring to ex-Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge, who is accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to get his children admitted to the University of Southern California.

(Others named in the criminal complaint that focused on ways that parents bribed schools like Yale and USC to admit their children include: William McGlashan, a senior executive at the private equity firm TPG Growth; Hyannis Port Capital CEO John Wilson; and Dragon Global CEO Robert Zangrilllo.)

Gundlach said Trump’s failure to rein in the budget or trade deficits means the “next big move for the dollar is down.” Such a trend in the greenback generally supports commodities and gold, he added, which “usually go up late in [an economic] cycle.”

He also explained that he thinks “the debt boom is underway and that the yield curve will steepen substantially unless the Fed does something [about it] — which cannot be ruled out.”

— Check out Beware These Early Warning Signs of an Upcoming Recession on ThinkAdvisor.


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