Monday, July 20, 2009

The Bond King: Americans Have Lost $15 trillion

From PIMCO's "Bond King," Bill Gross:

The fact is that American consumers have suffered a collapse in wealth of at least $15 trillion since early 2007. Global estimates are less reliable, but certainly in multiples of that figure. And when potential spenders feel less rich by that much, the only model one can use to forecast the future is a commonsensical one that predicts higher savings, lower consumption, and an economic growth rate that staggers forward at a new normal closer to 2 as opposed to 3½%. There’s no magic in that number, and no model to back it up, just a lot of commonsense that says this is how people and economic societies behave when stressed and stretched to a near breaking point.

15 trillion dollars is a heart-wrenching number. Even though I don't necessarily disagree with Mr. Gross, if interest rates stay at record lows, will Americans really save more money? Don't we need higher interest rates before saving looks more attractive over the long term? After all, a 1% interest rate isn't going to make anyone run to the bank.

No comments: