There’s been no shortage of commentary from market heavyweights this week thanks to the World Economic Forum in Davos, but for anyone who hasn’t yet gotten their fill of billionaire talking heads, George Soros gave a sweeping interview to Bloomberg TV on Thursday, touching on everything from China to Fed policy to Vladimir Putin to Europe’s worsening refugee crisis.
As for China, Soros says he “expects a hard landing,” a contention we won’t argue with considering said hard landing probably arrived a year ago. "A hard landing is practically unavoidable," he said. "I’m not expecting it, I’m observing it. China can manage it. It has resources and greater latitude in policies, with $3 trillion in reserves." $3 trillion in reserves which, we might add, are rapidly evaporating.
As for the Fed, Soros is on the policy mistake bandwagon, saying Yellen may have mistimed liftoff. That echoes sentiments voiced by Marc Faber among other prominent investors and speaks to what we’ve been saying since September, namely that December's hike might go down as the worst-timed rate hike in history. "The investor said he would be surprised if the Federal Reserve raised interest rates again after hiking them in December for the first time in almost a decade," Bloomberg writes. He, like Ray Dalio, says the FOMC is more likely to cut than hike going forward.
Draghi, Soros thinks, will ease further. No surprise there. This morning we got a bit of dovish jawboning out of the former Goldmanite and it seems likely that the ECB will move again in March given the rather dour outlook for inflation across the euro.
And speaking of inflation (or a lack thereof), Soros warns that deflation has indeed arrived and China, along with falling oil prices and raw materials, are the root causes.
He also voiced concern over the bloc’s refugee crisis and says he’s worried about the political fate of Angela Merkel. The EU, he contends, is falling apart.
Commenting on Vladimir Putin, the billionaire says the Russian President is operating from a position of weakness and thus has to act erratically and take “big risks.”
But the most important point - for markets anyway - came when Soros revealed that he is short the S&P, and long TSYs which again recalls Marc Faber's take on what's likely to work during a year in which the US slides into recession. Here was the reaction in equities:
Finally, speaking about the outlook for global growth, Soros says that although he "sees the light at the end of the tunnel," he "just doesn't know how to get there."
Neither do we.