In a recent article for Barron’s, fund manager Bill Gross argues that investors have “resorted to ‘making money with money’ as opposed to old-fashioned capitalism when money and profits were made with capital investment in the real economy.” This, he argues, will suppress real economic growth going forward.
Gross explains that factors such as the replacement of workers with robots and trade-restrictive government policies present a “counterforce to creative capitalism in the real economy” which in turn causes investors to sense future threats to consumer demand and investment returns. So, instead of channeling dollars into the real economy, they turn to the financial economy—which is bolstered by central banks through quantitative easing.
Gross points out that “asset prices and their growth rates are ultimately dependent on the real economy, and the real economy’s growth rate is stunted by secular forces which monetary and even future fiscal policies seem unable to reverse.” Standard business models of institutions such as banks, insurance companies and pension funds, he argues, are challenged by low yields that have led to high asset prices. He concludes that “faulty” monetary policy can erode rather than support the real economy.
Gross warns investors against being “mesmerized by the blue skies created by central bank [quantitative easing] and near perpetually low interest rates. All markets are increasingly at risk.”