Pimco’s Gross: Time to lower return expectations in age of inflation

The Lending Lindy

The Dying Cult of Equity 

Most individual investors don’t have the privilege of time nor the choice of risking their investment dollars while being able to recoup it only at .1% money market or CD rates. An investor, it seems, must learn a new dance to fit the diminished return size of the modern dance floor.

If I were an individual investor, I would do this: Balance your asset mix according to your age. Own more stocks if you are young, but more bonds if you are in your 60s, like myself. If you choose an investment advisor, a mutual fund, or an ETF, make sure that your fees are minimized. After all, if overall returns average 3–4% annually how can you possibly afford to give 100 basis points of it back? You cannot. And be careful. The age of credit expansion which led to double-digit portfolio returns is over. The age of inflation is upon us, which typically provides a headwind, not a tailwind, to securities price – both stocks and bonds.

If you are an institution be cognizant as well of the above, but in addition, recognize that higher returns – from both stocks and bonds – usually emanate in countries and economies which exhibit higher growth. And don’t trust any country, including the United States, to forever remain a clean dirty shirt. There’s mud aplenty in our future, which I’ll expound more about in next month’s Investment Outlook.

Until then, like Chuck Prince and his buddy Wimpy, you should keep on dancin’. It won’t likely be the Lindy or the Quickstep, because our credit-based financial system is burdened by excessive fat and interest rates that are too low. It will be a new, slower-paced dance by necessity but Chuck was right: it’s better to be on the dance floor than a wallflower on the sideline. You’ve just got to watch your step.

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