Following some well-timed ‘suggestions’ in Natural Gas and Apple this year, the new bond guru has some rather more concerning views about the future of America. Reflecting on a dismal outlook progressing due to the fact that “Retirees take resources from a society, and workers produce resources”, Gundlach has cut his exposure to US equities (apart from gold-miners and NatGas producers) noting their expensive valuation and low potential for growth. In a forthcoming Bloomberg Markets interview, the DoubleLine CEO warns we are about to enter the ominous third phase of the current debacle (Phase 1: a 27-year buildup of corporate, personal and sovereign debt. That lasted until 2008, when Phase 2 started, unfettered lending finally toppled banks and pushed the global economy into a recession, spurring governments and central banks to spend trillions of dollars to stimulate growth) as deeply indebted countries and companies, which Gundlach doesn’t name, will default sometime after 2013. “I don’t believe you’re going to get some sort of an early warning,” Gundlach warns “You should be moving now.”
Excerpts (via Bloomberg):
On Hard Assets:
He recommends buying hard assets: Gemstones, art and commercial real estate are high on his list. And DoubleLine has been buying the stocks of Chinese companies, U.S. natural gas producers and gold-mining firms because it considers them to be bargains.
Most of DoubleLine’s assets are in the Total Return Bond Fund, which has 78 percent of its holdings in residential mortgage-backed securities — both those guaranteed by the U.S. government and those that are not and have discounted prices.
The mix should help the fund weather either inflation or deflation because the securities should move in opposite directions if interest rates go up or down. Because higher rates could mean the economy is improving and housing prices are recovering, there would be fewer defaults on the riskier non-guaranteed bonds, and prices would rise, says Philip Barach, DoubleLine’s co-founder and president.
He says the amount of money investors can make in phase three will dwarf what they can earn now.
“I’m waiting for something to go kaboom,” Gundlach says in his office a week before the L.A. speech. “If phase three takes two years, it’s worth waiting for. The markets don’t have lots of opportunity now.”
Gundlach is so confident that phase three is coming that he’s planning to start an equities fund and a long-short hedge fund in early 2013 to offer investors additional protection from inflation.
“Japan is running out of policy tools,”
Following actions by the European Central Bank that pumped $355.4 billion into the region starting in 2010, DoubleLine managers see several possible events that could hammer markets, from Finland exiting the euro zone to another near default of a Spanish bank.
“The only reason asset prices are up is because of all the liquidity in the system,” says Luz Padilla, manager of the $707 million DoubleLine Emerging Markets Fixed Income Fund. (DBLEX) “Our concern is that it can turn very quickly.”
Gundlach sees a post-election, pre-fiscal cliff economy that’s growing anemically and only because of consumer loans, government stimulus and the Fed. He says inflation could jump by 2 percentage points if the Fed ramps up its purchases of government debt beyond what it has done so far.
On US Equities:
“Retirees take resources from a society, and workers produce resources,” he says.
In line with Gundlach’s gloomy outlook for America, the Multi-Asset fund recently dumped some of its U.S. equities. Sherman says the stocks are too expensive and U.S. companies don’t have much potential for growth. But the fund has added to its holdings of gold-mining companies and natural gas producers in 2012 because these stocks are cheap, he says.
On Bernanke and The Fed:
“You’re just going to build up pressure in the pressure cooker, and when it blows, the lid will blow sky-high, and that’s when you get to phase three,” Gundlach says.
On Obama and The Fiscal Cliff:
Gundlach says he has no faith that President Barack Obama in his second term will reach an accord with Congress to make significant cuts in the $1.09 trillion deficit. He says the tax hikes proposed by Obama on the wealthy wouldn’t bring in enough revenue to have a significant impact and politicians probably won’t make major cuts in entitlement programs because the public overwhelmingly supports them.
Gundlach dismisses the chances of a grand compromise on the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases totaling $607 billion if an agreement isn’t reached by January. Rather, he expects politicians will find a way to push the deficit issues into 2013 and beyond.
“I don’t think Obama is likely to give on anything, and I doubt the Republicans are going to roll over because they failed to regain the White House,” Gundlach says.
“He’s a much more complex human being than an egotistical blowhard,” Baha, 53, says. “The guy is a paradox. He is crazy about football. Then he recites a T.S. Eliot poem.”