El-Erian: End May Be Near For “New Normal”

When the financial crisis of 2008-09 hit, bond giant PIMCO was quick to say that the U.S. had entered a “New Normal” of slow growth, high unemployment, and debt woes. Now, PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian says that we may be nearing the end of the “New Normal”.

“We said in 2009: three to five years,” El-Erian tells CNBC, referring to how long he thought the New Normal would last. “Sectors have healed. The ‘new normal’ [has] allowed time for the corporate sector to heal, for the housing sector to heal, and that’s positive. That’s how you come out of the New Normal.”

But what comes after the New Normal isn’t clear. El-Erian says it’s a two-tail scenario: “Everybody wants the positive tail, which is we tip into higher growth, lower unemployment, and we deal with our debt issues through economic growth.” But he added, “We have to be careful because the other tail, which is Europe doesn’t get its act together, the Middle East gets more complicated.”

El-Erian says that while the New Normal has allowed time for certain areas of the economy to heal, other factors — perhaps most notably political risk at home and abroad — have grown more troublesome. He points to potential currency wars as one of those issues. “As investors, it’s not just about top-line revenue growth. It’s not just about the economy. It’s also about political risk and policy risk.,” he says.

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