Think JPM is the "whale" in the market? Think again. Bill Gross exposes the real food chains on Wall Street, and you may be surprised just who is truly the biggest "whale" in the "developed" world. Hint- it is the creature controlled by a Princeton economics professor.
From Pimco's Bill Gross
Wall Street Food Chain
- Soaring debt/GDP ratios in previously sacrosanct AAA countries have made low cost funding increasingly a function of central banks as opposed to private market investors.
- Both the lower quality and lower yields of such previously sacrosanct debt represent a potential breaking point in our now 40-year-old global monetary system.
- Bond investors should favor quality and “clean dirty shirt” sovereigns (U.S., Mexico and Brazil), for example, as well as emphasize intermediate maturities that gradually shorten over the next few years. Equity investors should likewise favor stable cash flow global companies and ones exposed to high growth markets.?
The balance between financial whales and plankton – powerful creditors and much smaller debtors – is significantly dependent on the successful functioning of our global monetary system. What is a global monetary system? It is basically how the world conducts and pays for commerce. Historically, several different systems have been employed but basically they have either been commodity-based systems – gold and silver primarily – or a fiat system – paper money. After rejecting the gold standard at Bretton Woods in 1945, developed nations accepted a hybrid based on dollar convertibility and the fixing of the greenback at $35.00 per ounce. When that was overwhelmed by U.S. fiscal deficits and dollar printing in the late 1960s, President Nixon ushered in a new, rather loosely defined system that was still dollar dependent for trade and monetary transactions but relied on the consolidated “good behavior” of G-7 central banks to print money parsimoniously and to target inflation close to 2%. Heartened by Paul Volcker in 1979, markets and economies gradually accepted this implicit promise and global credit markets and their economies grew like baby whales, swallowing up tons of debt-related plankton as they matured. The global monetary system seemed to be working smoothly, and instead of Shamu, it was labeled the “great moderation.” The laws of natural selection and modern day finance seemed to be functioning as anticipated, and the whales were ascendant.
The world’s financial markets currently seem obsessed with daily monetary and fiscal policy evolutions in Euroland which form the basis for risk on/risk off days in the marketplace and the overall successful deployment of carry and risk strategies so important to asset market total returns. Euroland is just a localized tumor however. The developing credit cancer may be metastasized, and the global monetary system fatally flawed by increasingly risky and unacceptably low yields, produced by the debt crisis and policy responses to it. The great white whale lies waiting on the horizon. Investors should sail carefully and the Wall Street 1% should put on their life vests if they expect to weather the inevitable storm that may threaten the first-class cabins they have come to enjoy.