NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jeffrey Gundlach, the chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said on Tuesday investors are dropping risky assets and turning to safer securities including Treasuries and gold because they are losing faith in central banks.
The man known on Wall Street as the ‘Bond King’ is one of the first heavyweight investors to publicly raise red flags about the credibility of major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, as countries struggle to manage economic growth.
Last year, Gundlach correctly predicted that oil prices would plunge, junk bonds would live up to their name and China’s slowing economy would pressure emerging markets. In 2014, he forecast U.S. Treasury yields would fall, not rise as many others had expected.
“Central banks are losing control and they don’t know what to do ... just like the Republican establishment and Donald Trump,” Gundlach told Reuters in a telephone interview, referring to the Republic Party’s unpredictable presumptive nominee for U.S. President.
Safe-haven German Bund yields fell below zero on Tuesday for the first time and global equity markets slid for a fourth day in a row on intensifying worries about a potential British exit from the European Union next week.
Gundlach’s remarks come the day before U.S. Federal Reserve officials are widely expected to leave short-term interest rates unchanged following a dismal May jobs report.
“The Fed is confused and their confusion spills into investor psychology,” said Gundlach, who oversees more than $100 billion at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine.
“The Fed changes its tone so frequently, it seems every other week the message is different. They’ve turned into the ‘Zombie Fed.’ They say the meeting this week is ‘live,’ but investors all know it isn’t at all.”
Gundlach said it is a “dangerous price appreciation game” to purchase German Bunds at current levels and that gold and gold miners are still an attractive place to put money to work.
On a webcast for investors later on Tuesday he said negative interest rates implemented by some major central banks, notably in Japan, were backfiring. “Negative interest rates don’t do what they’re theoretically supposed to do,” he said, noting the appreciation in the Japanese yen.
He added that negative interest rates “aren’t leading to higher economic growth.” He said world gross domestic product could be averaging around just 1 percent against the backdrop of aggressive global monetary policies.
Gundlach also noted the dramatic “drawdowns” from the highs in several stock markets. Germany is down 22 percent, Japan is down 23 percent, China is down 45 percent, the United Kingdom market is down 15 percent and France is down 20 percent.
“Negative rates do not prop up stock markets,” Gundlach said on the webcast.
Gundlach’s prescient investment calls have accelerated DoubleLine’s rise and earned him a reputation as a savvy investor. DoubleLine’s flagship DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund (DBLTX.O), which invests mainly in mortgage-backed securities, has assets of $60.3 billion, making it one of the world’s largest bond mutual funds.
“This summer is going to be a rocky ride,” Gundlach said, summarizing his outlook.
Reporting By Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Andrew Hay and Bill Rigby