Gross: In 1980, the Federal Reserve, led by Paul Volcker, tightened the quantitative noose to tame double-digit inflation, fueling an unprecedented tailwind for bond prices. Thirty years later we find ourselves at the other extreme, as central banks print money in the trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth, and inflation is abnormally low. While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds. Rather, what we’re seeing is the continuation – and acceleration, in some respects – of the de-levering process, a key distinction that may be getting lost in some of the noise over the past few weeks. The Fed, the Bank of England, and now the Bank of Japan have all committed to holding their easing stance until growth targets are hit. We don’t see the Fed raising rates in a meaningful way for at least the next few years.
That said, we believe caution is warranted not just for fixed income investors, but for investors in all risk assets. Central banks have reached a critical inflection point in which the negatives of their aggressive policies may be outweighing the positives and in fact hampering growth. Where their monetary repression has succeeded, however, is in forcing investors to take increasing amounts of risk, but for lower yields and more volatile returns.