Bill Gross, who oversees the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., said the pace of economic growth in China is among the biggest questions in developing nations and the largest risks for markets.
“I call China the mystery meat of emerging-market countries,” Gross said yesterday during an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” with Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle. “Nobody knows what’s there and there’s a little bit of bologna, so we’re just going to have to wonder going forward through this year as to the potential problems in China and other emerging markets.”
Bologna sausage is a type of cold meat, also known as Baloney.
Global shares have been falling this year as signs of slowing recoveries in the U.S. and China come at the same time the Federal Reserve is reducing bond purchases and emerging- market currencies slump. Bonds beat stocks last month for the first time since August as fixed-income securities worldwide enjoyed their best start to a year since 2008.
Uncertainty about China’s growth this year is adding to investors’ unease and demand for the safest of assets, Gross said.
“The last wild card, Erik, in terms of emerging-market space, obviously is China,” Gross said. “Is it 6 percent? Is it 7 percent? Is it 5 percent?”
China’s economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013, the same rate as in 2012. Expansion is forecast to be 7.4 percent this year, the weakest pace since 1990, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.
Pimco has been buying U.S. Treasuries maturing in four- to five-years this week, sticking to the strategy outlined last year amid expectations the Fed will hold short-term rates through the year even as it reduces asset purchases, Gross said.
“Emerging markets are getting cheaper,” Gross said. “The problem is emerging markets have problems. Take examples such as Brazil and Turkey. These are countries with widening current- account deficits. These are countries which, by necessity in order to stabilize their currency, have to raise interest rates and put their economies at risk in terms of slower growth.”