Tags: Pimco | Gross | Fed | Intervention

Pimco’s Gross: More Fed Intervention Growing Increasingly Likely

Friday, 01 Jun 2012 07:09 AM

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The Federal Reserve is increasingly likely to roll out a third round of unconventional monetary stimulus measures to jolt the economy, which is currently running into a soft patch, says Bill Gross, founder of Pimco, manager of the world's largest bond fund.

The Commerce Department reports that the U.S. gross domestic product expanded by an annual 1.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from an initial 2.2 percent reading and well beneath the 3.0 percent rate registered in the fourth quarter.

Both official and private-sector jobs reports continue to disappoint, while initial jobless claims are up, which could prompt the Federal Reserve to buy assets from banks with the aim of stimulating the economy.

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

Since the downturn, the Federal Reserve has launched two rounds of quantitative easing, known widely as QE1 and QE2.

QE1 saw the Fed buy $1.7 trillion in assets from banks, mainly mortgage securities, while QE2 saw the central bank snap up $600 billion of Treasury bonds, the latter of which wrapped up on June 30, 2011.

Such moves are used to stimulate the economy when interest-rate cuts alone don't work, though critics dub the policy as printing money out of thin air that will fuel inflation down the road.

There's a good chance for QE3 later this year, especially in view of the drag the European debt crisis will have on the economy.

"As Euroland becomes dysfunctional as our asset markets go down as opposed to up, what the Fed needs to do is to do another QE," Gross tells CNBC, adding a new round of easing would not necessarily resemble QE1 and QE2 but would seek the same effect.

Yields on the 10-year Treasury bond have hit record lows, briefly dipping to around 1.55 percent which reflects safe-haven demand from investors fleeing European volatility.

Low yields also reflect rock-bottom interest rates, which punish savers, especially the elderly, whose investment income is being wiped out by low interest rates that don't allow for returns to match even tame inflation rates.

U.S. creditor China, meanwhile, may be tempted to park its money elsewhere unless rates rise and it gets better returns.

Today China buys Treasurys to keep its currency from appreciating so its exports remain competitive.

"At a 1.57 percent yield for Treasurys at a 10-year level, you'd have to think that they're looking for other alternatives," Gross says.

"What might those be? Typically they might be real assets, they might be commodities, an outright purchase of oil — anything that basically has a better potential return than a 1.57 percent return on a U.S. Treasury."

But in the meantime, the Fed can prop up the market by buying Treasury bonds held by banks via quantitative easing.

Past rounds have already pumped the bulk of Treasurys into Fed coffers already.

"The Fed has been buying through the QEs about 70 percent of the issuance of Treasurys. You know, some would say, and I think statistics bear out that China, yeah, basically has been leaving the market gradually over time."

On Federal Reserve board member says, in his opinion, the U.S. economy doesn't need quantitative easing for now.

"Recent data have been somewhat mixed, but not enough for me to change my forecast of achieving moderate growth," St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told reporters in Japan, according to Reuters.

A turn for the worse in Europe could up the odds for Fed intervention.

"However, what is not so good is the situation in Europe. The situation in Europe is grave, and we need vision and rapid action so this does not turn into a meltdown for the global economy."

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did



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