The latest monthly missive from PIMCO's Bill Gross can be found here. Unlike most of his writings there is not some far flung story that he goes into to introduce his theme, so it's straight to the opinions. Gross calls this a financially repressive environment:
"The best way to visualize successful delivering is to recognize that investors are locked up in a financially repressive environment that reduces future returns for all financial assets. Breaking out of that 'jail' is what I call the Great Escape."
- When interest rates cannot be dramatically lowered further or risk spreads significantly compressed, the momentum begins to shift, not necessarily suddenly, but gradually – yields moving mildly higher and spreads stabilizing or moving slightly wider.
- In such a mildly reflating world, unless you want to earn an inflation-adjusted return of minus 2%-3% as offered by Treasury bills, then you must take risk in some form.
- We favor high quality, shorter duration and inflation-protected bonds; dividend paying stocks with a preference for developing over developed markets; and inflation-sensitive, supply-constrained commodity products.
Here are his investment conclusions:
In summary, what has the potential to deliver the most return with the least amount of risk and highest information ratios? Logically, (1) Real as opposed to financial assets – commodities, land, buildings, machines, and knowledge inherent in an educated labor force. (2) Financial assets with shorter spread and interest rate durations because they are more defensive. (3) Financial assets for entities with relatively strong balance sheets that are exposed to higher real growth, for which developing vs. developed nations should dominate. (4) Financial or real assets that benefit from favorable policy thrusts from both monetary and fiscal authorities. (5) Financial or real assets which are not burdened by excessive debt and subject to future haircuts.
In plain speak –
For bond markets: favor higher quality, shorter duration and inflation protected assets.
For stocks: favor developing vs. developed. Favor shorter durations here too, which means consistent dividend paying as opposed to growth stocks.
For commodities: favor inflation sensitive, supply constrained products.
And for all asset categories, be wary of levered hedge strategies that promise double-digit returns that are difficult in a delevering world.
Any securities mentioned on this page are not held by the author in his personal portfolio. Securities mentioned may or may not be held by the author in the mutual fund he manages, the Paladin Long Short Fund (PALFX). For a list of the aforementioned fund's holdings at the end of the prior quarter, visit the Paladin Funds website at http://www.paladinfunds.com/holdings/blog