Following last week's discovery that Mohamed El-Erian was "sick of cleaning up [Bill Gross's] shit" as tensions soared at PIMCO, the "bond king" has struck back blasting to Reuters that he's "so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me," claiming El-Erian wrote the damaging WSJ article. Furthermore, the somewhat paranoid-sounding Gross indicated that he had been monitoring El-Erian's phone calls but when questioned by Reuters for evidence of El-Erian's undermining, Gross responded "you're on his side. Great, he's got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger." As one analyst noted, "I've never seen Bill and Pimco scrutinized like this before... a couple of high-profile stumbles and mediocre showings, coupled with some outflows clearly has some investors on edge."
Earlier today we were surprised when none other than uber central-planning skeptic, not to mention bond fund manager, Bill Gross threw in the towel and in his latest letter advocated the purchase of risk assets - and Bill Gross is the last person needing reminding that in a day and age when the 10 Year yields just barely over 2.5%, this means not bonds but stocks. The surprise, however, promptly disappeared when we realized that PIMCO is merely the latest entrant in the scramble for yield game following, with a substantial delay to all of its other "alternative" asset management peers, right into ground zero: European toxic debt.
In the aftermath of the recent Wall Street Journal profile piece that, rather meaninglessly, shifted attention to Bill Gross as quirky manager (who isn't) to justify El-Erian's departure and ignoring Bill Gross as the man who built up the largest bond fund in the world, the sole head of Pimco was eager to return to what he does best - thinking about the future and sharing his thoughts with one of his trademark monthly letters without an estranged El-Erian by his side. He did that moments ago with "The Second Coming" in which the 69-year-old Ohian appears to have pulled a Hugh Hendry, and in a letter shrouded in caveats and skepticism, goes on to essentially plug "risk" assets. To wit: "As long as artificially low policy rates persist, then artificially high-priced risk assets are not necessarily mispriced. Low returning, yes, but mispriced? Not necessarily.... In plain English – stocks, bonds and other “carry”-sensitive assets would outperform cash."
If yesterday's 2 Year auction was largely blah, today's issuance of $15 billion in 5 year bonds can only be described as blistering. While the high yield of 1.53% was strong enough to stop through the 1.538% When Issued, and the lowest since November's 1.34%, it was the Bid to Cover that showed just how much demand there was for paper, as 2.98 dollars in tendered bids were waiting for every dollar of allocation: this was the highest Bid to Cover since September 2012 and well above the 2.62 TTM average. This outlier print snapped the recent trend of declining BTCs and showed that when it comes to Bill Gross once favorite spot on the curve, there is no lack of demand, especially from foreigners, who took down 50.7% of the allotment, the highest since July and solidly above the 44.5% average. On the other hand, Directs who lately are hardly the best friends of the Dealer community, took down only 9.2%, the lowest also since July, leaving 40.2% for the dealers.
"There is a big flight to quality," warns one trader as the spread between interest rate swaps (implicitly bank risk) and government bonds soared to a record high. This "crisis gauge" flashing red is also followed by 3 month SHIBOR (short-dated interbank lending rates) surging to an 8-month high. China's CDS have jumped 30bps since the Fed taper and as Bloomberg reports that billionaire investors like George Soros and Bill Gross have drawn uncomfortable parallels between the situation in China now and the US before 2008 (when this crisis gauge was key in spotting the carnage to come). Simply put, the banks don't trust each other...
Bill Gross, by his own admission, is a demanding boss; but as the WSJ reports, one day last June (amid the bond sell-off), things went a little turbo (leading to Mohamed El-Erian's recent resignation):
Gross: "I have a 41-year track record of investing excellence... What do you have?"
El-Erian: "I'm tired of cleaning up your shit."
While careful to deny that El-Erian's departure had anything to do with 'friction' although even Mr.Gross admits he can be difficult to work with,"sometimes people will say 'Gross is too challenging,' and maybe so. I would say if you think I'm challenging now, you should have seen me 20 years ago."
Unfortunately many investors, with central banks having slashed deposit rates to de minimis levels, have gone ‘all-in’ with regard to risk assets in the desperate pursuit of yield. Be careful what you wish for. It is quite clear that central banks will do literally anything within their power to attempt to avert deflation – to ensure that “it cannot happen here”. That does not mean they will succeed – but they may end up destroying fiat currencies in the process (one of the reasons we have consistently held gold). It is “quite obvious” what the Fed will ultimately do... Six years into this crisis, and in the words of Lily Tomlin, things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
An "Austrian" Bill Gross Warns: "The Days Of Getting Rich Quickly Are Over... Getting Rich Slowly May Be As Well"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/05/2014 14:03 -0400
If readers ignore the rest from the latest monthly insight from Bill Gross of PIMCO, they should at least read the following insight which we agree with wholeheartedly: "our PIMCO word of the month is to be “careful.” Bull markets are either caused by or accompanied by credit expansion. With credit growth slowing due in part to lower government deficits, and QE now tapering which will slow velocity, the U.S. and other similarly credit-based economies may find that future growth is not as robust as the IMF and other model-driven forecasters might assume. Perhaps the whisper word of “deflation” at Davos these past few weeks was a reflection of that.... don’t be a pig in today’s or any day’s future asset markets. The days of getting rich quickly are over, and the days of getting rich slowly may be as well. Most medieval, perhaps." Where have we read this recently? Why in An “Austrian View” Approach To Equity Prices in particular and the bulk of Austrian economics in general. Which means that following the TBAC, i.e. the committee that really runs the US, none other than the manager of the world's largest bond fund has now moved over to the Austrian side. Welcome.
It's snowing in New York so the market must be down. Just kidding - everyone know the only thing that matters for the state of global risk is the level of USDJPY and it is this that nearly caused a bump in the night after pushing the Nikkei as low as 13,995, before the Japanese PPT intervened and rammed the carry trade higher, and thus the Japanese index higher by 1.23% before the close of Japan trading. However, since then the USDJPY has failed to levitate as it usually does overnight and at last check was fluctuating within dangerous territory of 101.000, below which there be tigers. The earlier report of European retail sales tumbling by 1.6% on expectations of a modest 0.6% drop from a downward revised 0.9% only confirmed that the last traces of last year's illusionary European recovery have long gone. Then again, it's all the cold weather's fault. In Europe, not in the US that is.
"Financial systems are unstable with excessive risk-taking," warns PIMCO's now solo guru Bill Gross, telling Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle that in a "Soros reflexivity... Once you get the levered system going, it hardly knows when and where to stop." Credit, as we have noted, has been relatively more stable (though less positive on the the way up) Gross notes and "the way to get rich in the past was to borrow money and to lever [up]," but Gross explains that now, "assets are artificially priced... from this point forward, double-digit returns, getting rich on leverage, no. You better look elsewhere for – for your profits," and not Asia. China is "the mystery meat" of emerging market countries, Gross cautions, "nobody knows what’s there and there’s a little bit of baloney."
- Only time will define Bernanke's crisis-era legacy at Fed (Reuters)
- Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs (BBG)
- Investors Look Toward Safer Options as Ground Shifts (WSJ)
- Fed Policy Makers Rally Behind Tapering QE as Yellen Era Begins (BBG)
- Rating agencies criticise China’s bailout of failed $500m trust (FT)
- Russia to await new Ukraine government before fully implementing rescue (Reuters)
- U.S. readies financial sanctions against Ukraine: congressional aides (Reuters)
- Companies resist president’s call for minimum wage rise (FT)
- Secret Swiss Funds at Risk as Italy’s Saccomanni Visits Bern (BBG)
- Top Democrat puts Obama trade deals in doubt (FT)
- Erdogan to Give Rate Increase Time Before Trying Other Plans (BBG)
Said Dr. El-Erian: “I have been extremely honored and fortunate to work alongside Bill Gross, who is one of the very best investors in the world. His talents are truly exceptional, as is his dedication. I have also been amazingly privileged to work with the most talented group of professionals in the investment management industry. Their commitment and tireless work on behalf of our clients have been a consistent inspiration for me since I first joined PIMCO back in 1999. I wish them continued great success.”
Gross: “Give me a double shot,” global mkts said to its Fed & BOJ bartenders. Can we sober up on a single jigger of saké? I doubt it.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) January 21, 2014
"Bond King" Bill Gross may not have had a good year following over $40 billion in redemptions from his $250 billion Total Return Fund, but another aspirational Bond King, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach, had an even worse year on an relative basis, when his Total Return Bond Fund saw $6 billion in redemptions ending the year at $30.9 billion in AUM following seven consecutive months of withdrawals. So in his attempt to start the new year on better footing, here is his first webcast (as usual open to the public), titled "Let the Race Begin! 2014 Markets: Year of the Horse", in which as usual Jeff will discuss the economy, the markets and his outlook for the best investment strategiest of 2014. Let's hope that for bond fund manager, that 2014 is not just another "year of the donkey", as was the case in the past year which everyone managing duration would rather forget.
As stocks have vascillated in a worryingly not-straight-up manner for the last few days with today's weakness taking the Dow and S&P 500 pre-holiday lows (with th ebiggest drop in a month), it would appear more than a few 'investors' are greatly unrotating into the very shortest-term Treasuries as a safe-haven from the turbulence. The last few days have seen Treasury-Bill yields swing negative in the less-than-1-month maturity indicating anythng but risk appetite as a scramble for safety is strong enough to warrant paying (albeit marginally) for it. As we noted previously, the driver of Bill Gross' 'bet' on the short-end will not be based on always wrong expectations of what Fed monetary policy does to prices, but the exodus of speculative money from equities into safe havens, call it the Great Unrotation.