Bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach, the CEO of $150 billion DoubleLine Capital, sees trouble brewing in the economy, despite interest rates hovering near historic lows, a strong jobs report, and high consumer spending over Black Friday for the upcoming holiday.
Gundlach is looking specifically at the debt market, however, and he says there’s some major turmoil awaiting us in the 2020s because of the debt market, and historically low interest rates won’t be the savior many assume.
In a recent discussion with Yahoo Finance, Gundlach compared the current expansion to the boom that took place nearly 100 years ago. But the next decade will be the opposite of the roaring 1920s, he said, as the debt bomb the United States is sitting on becomes untenable in the next economic downturn. “It’s pretty interesting because the 20s in the 20th century, the 20s were super boom times. And weirdly, I think the 20s this time will be very much different than that, with real turmoil,” the 60-year-old billionaire said in a recent wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance.
Total household debt in the U.S. is spiraling out of control. According to the New York Federal Reserve, Americans held $13.95 trillion in debt in the third quarter of 2019. It was the twenty-first consecutive quarterly increase, and the total is now $1.3 trillion higher, in nominal terms than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008. Gundlach isn’t the only one attempting to warn Americans about the problem.
In Gundlach’s opinion, the 2020s will see “the crescendo” of many unattractive trends that have been talked about for years but will finally come home to roost: like overspending by the government on the Ponzi scheme, social security. “[We’re] going to have to face Social Security, health care, all of these things, deficit-based spending — all of that is going to have to be resolved during the 2020s because the compounding curve is just so bad,” the billionaire added.
Gundlach also said the central banks are aware of the dire economic future we face, which is why the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, is talking about large scale asset purchases.
Gundlach is one of a few investors (Peter Schiff if another) who sounded the alarm in subprime that led up to 2008’s credit crisis. In June 2007, he said subprime “is a total, unmitigated disaster, and it’s only going to get worse.” He successfully navigated the credit crisis for his clients and put money to work in beaten-down mortgage bonds in 2009 and significantly outperformed.
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