What Pimco's Bill Gross Sees Going Higher in 2013
Bill Gross, the so-called bond king who oversees nearly $2 trillion at his firm Pimco, predicts unemployment may actually reverse course and rise next year. This bleak economic outlook will make for weak fixed income and stock returns and cause gold to go higher, Gross said.
The simple proclamation came as many do these days, via Twitter, on Sunday morning.
"2013 Fearless Forecasts: 1) Stocks & bonds return less than 5%. 2)Unemployment stays at 7.5% or higher 3) Gold goes up…," Gross wrote on the Pimco Twitter page.
Gross's call for high unemployment fits Pimco's "New Normal" thesis, which posits high unemployment, slow growth and orderly deleveraging for developed countries over the long term. Economists predict that a report on Friday will show the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.7 percent in December.The rate was at 8.5 percent a year ago.
While Gross's economic predictions have been accurate, his market predictions have been off. Last year, the money manager's January letter to investors recommended holding high-rated credit, municipals, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, and higher-yielding equities like utilities.
All four of those recommendations trailed the 12 percent return in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). Gross also proclaimed during 2012 that the "Cult of Equities" was dead.
This track record had many money managers and traders taking this latest prediction with a grain of salt.
I "totally disagree on stocks," said Stephanie Link, director of research at TheStreet.com. Link cited domestic improvements in housing and manufacturing,a rebound in China and stabilization in Europe for reasons to expect higher returns from equities.
To be sure, Gross has served his investors pretty well this year with his flagship Pimco Total Return Fund up 10.4 percent. The world's largest bond fund has benefited from the comeback in housing this year as it holds more than 40percent of its assets in mortgage bonds.
(Read more: Big Money Bets on a Housing Rebound)
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