"They're Guessing" - Gundlach Rejects The Fed's "Inflation Is Transitory" Narrative

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 27, 2021 - 01:55 PM

Don't believe your lying eyes, will be the message tomorrow from The Fed's Jay Powell as he hypnotizes investors to believe that "inflation is transitory" and they have "the tools" to manage it.

'Bond King' Jeff Gundlach is not buying that line and told BNN Bloomberg in an interview this morning.

"...more importantly, I'm not sure why they think they know it's transitory... how do they know that?"

"...there's plenty of money-printing that's been going on, and we've seen commodity prices going up massively... home prices in the US are inflating very substantially... so there's a lot of inflation that's already baked in to input prices."

Gundlach does admit that Powell has a point in the very near term as the prints were about to see "which could be as high as 4% [for CPI]" are off of year-ago, very depressed levels. "...what he means by transitory is that the base effect will lead to problems in the next few months but then the base effect will become less problematic."

But, Gundlach adds, "it's not clear to me that inflation is going to go back down to around 2 to 2.5%... we don't know, nobody knows... but we're most concerned with the fact that The Fed thinks they know."

This is worrisome because The Fed's track record is anything but inspiring...

"when I go back to the global financial crisis, when we almost had a complete meltdown of the financial system, Ben Bernanke completely missed all of the problems that led to the crisis."

Bernanke's infamous "contained to subprime... and subprime is only a sliver of the market" comments could be about to be trumped by Powell's "inflation is transitory" comments as Gundlach warns "there's plenty of indicators that suggest inflation is going to go higher and not just on a transitory basis."

The Fed is "trying to paint the picture" of control, but Gundlach tries to make clear: "they're guessing."

So, what does that mean for markets?

While some fear "we ain't seen nothing yet" in terms of yields rising (and multiple contraction), Gundlach notes that "it really depends on just how much manipulation the authorities are willing to do."

The billionaire fund manager notes that yields are "still very low... well below the current inflation rate... so we have negative yields everywhere on the yield curve."

It's also "hard to figure out who's going to buy the bonds," he notes, "as we are about to see issuance like we have never seen before." Foreigners have been selling bonds for years and domestically there is little demand, so Gundlach notes the only one left to soak up all this extra supply is The Federal Reserve, which has already expanded its balance sheet massively in the last 12 months.

“Who’s going to buy all these many trillions of dollars of bonds? Foreigners have been selling for years and they’ve accelerated their selling in the last several quarters, domestic buyers are not exactly selling, but they’re not adding to their holdings. So what’s left to absorb all of the spawn supply is the Federal Reserve.“

"Left to true, free markets, bond yields at the long-end would obviously be higher than they are now."

And so who will buy all these bonds with negative real yields - The Fed... "and they have been transparent about their willingness and ability to buy bonds and expand their balance sheet with no ceiling."

Gundlach is talking about Yield Curve Control, reminding viewers that "The Fed can set the long-end wherever they want it... there's a precedent for this from back in the 1940s into the 50s," in order to ease the pain of the debt from World War II.

Of course, Gundlach warns ominously, "once they stopped the yield curve control, we went into a 27 year massive bear market in bonds, because of 'guns-n'butter' policies... which look like our policies today."

Simply put, he sees "an echo [in current markets and policies] of what happened in the late 1970s into the early 1980s."

His forecast is that "The Fed will allow the market forces to take yields to higher levels [10Y 2.25%] before stepping in."

The Bond King also note that the US stock market is very overvalued by virtually every important metric, and especially so versus foreign markets such as Asia and even Europe.

“I bought European equities a couple of weeks ago, literally for the first time in many years. I can’t remember the last time I did it. And that’s largely because I think the U.S. dollar is almost certain to decline over the intermediate to long term.”

There's a lot more in the interview on the impact of Biden's stimmies and potential tax hikes...