Saturday, February 28, 2009
... [I]n Gross's view, growth prospects are so dim that there is no point in owning stocks since common stock investors will not benefit when there's no economic growth. Moreover, they'll be last in line for any dividends that might be available.
i'd be hard pressed to argue. bill gross, being who he is, has his name attached to his every comment. that enforces a public responsibility to something the elder galbraith, in his "the great crash", defined as 'incantation'. so comments as bleak as this from a decidedly institutional man say a lot.
given cover of anonymity, wired investors will go a lot further. paul kedrosky links to a new york magazine with a distressed investor:
NYM: How are you doing?
V: Since I saw you last, things have deteriorated more than even I could have imagined. We're invested in virtually all sectors, primarily through debt, so we have pretty good access to management. The color coming from them is mind-bogglingly awful. We need to flush all the banks and start again. I told my wife I'm putting gold bars and shotguns under our bed.
NYM: Can we take refuge with you, if it comes to that?
V: You're more than welcome. We have thick walls and a high perch from which to pick off the marauding throngs.
NYM: What's the least-bad news you've heard recently?
V: The only thing anyone on the desk can come up with is the fact that there have been a number of high-grade non-financials who have been able to raise debt in the market. That's it. GDP is going to be down 10 percent this quarter, is my guess.
NYM: Give me the bad news then.
V: I heard this yesterday: The top five U.K. banks have $10 trillion of assets and their GDP is only $2.13 trillion. The whole country could fall into the ocean. The top five U.S. banks represent only about 60 percent of GDP by comparison. The other thing is a survey that I just read about in the Times. Over six in ten Americans think that someone in their household will lose their job in the next year. That means six in ten people won't buy anything other than basics. The economy comes to a full halt even worse than now.
NYM: That means the other four out of ten better be out there buying Gucci. You're not losing your job. Are you buying any Gucci? Taking vacations? Leasing a new Mercedes?
V: I'm still taking vacations and renting a summer house but I ain't buying anything. Credit-default swaps scare me too much. For the banks, their portfolios of second-lien loans is terrifying and nobody, including the government, wants to talk about it. The banks carry them at par and have hundreds of billions of dollars of them. We just bought some at 33 cents on the dollar in the market. If they turn out to be worth 33, every bank would collapse.