Wien On Valuations, Growth, and Gold

Byron Wien says he expects the U.S. to show slow growth next year, and says stock valuations are “very attractive”. But whether those valuations are enough to overcome global debt woes is the big question, he says.

“The valuation is very attractive,” Wien recently told CNBC. “But Europe has to get its sovereign debt crisis over, and maybe it needs the crisis to intensify to do that.” The “big problem” the U.S. market has, he says, is the “possible downgrade of our paper” due to the country’s debt troubles. Wien says he doesn’t view a downgrade as a big deal in and of itself, but he seems concerned about the possible impact it could have on confidence.

Wien says he doesn’t think the U.S. is going into a recession. “I do think the U.S. economy is going to show growth next year, but it will be slow growth,” he said.

The New York Times, meanwhile, reports that Wien is maintaining his 5% gold allocation in his model portfolio for 2012. This year was the first time in his lengthy career that Wien had included gold in his model portfolio. “The money supply will be expanded in the major currencies in the developed world, and investors will seek the protection of hard assets: something real, and gold is perceived as real,” Wien said, calling the gold allocation “insurance” in today’s economic climate. “You don’t buy insurance because you think you will have a fire or a flood,” he said. “You buy it and you hope you don’t collect on it.”