Larry Fink and Bill Gross - Bloomberg TV Exclusive Airs Tonight
Larry Fink of BlackRock and Bill Gross of PIMCO sat down with Bloomberg Television's Erik Schatzker for an exclusive conversation hosted at UCLA Anderson School of Management on Thursday.
Fink and Gross discussed their investment strategies, the economy and job creation in the U.S. See select highlights below.
The special one-hour event, "Gross | Fink: Heavy Hitters," airs tonight at 10pm ET/7pm PT on Bloomberg Television.
Fink on whether now is an appropriate time to be taking risk:
"If you have the fortitude to look beyond the next cycle of information, if you have the fortitude to look beyond the next few years, and then you have the capability of investing for 10-year cycles, then a larger allocation in equities will probably pay off. But it's going to have to be with equities that are multinational in nature so you're not country dependent. And that's one of the real themes that we're talking about. Don't be so U.S. dependent. Don't be so China dependent. Try to get companies -- that's the beauty of corporations. They are in multiple locations throughout the world, and their earnings streams are less dependent on one nation."
"And so I do believe one has to accept more risk today. And I think the PE ratios of the world are pricing in that fear. And so in my mind, even today, I'm very worried about Europe and the resolution of Europe. I do believe a larger than normal allocation in global equities with a bias towards dividend will pay off over a long cycle."
Gross on risk:
"Here's the critical factor as I see it. Can developed economies successfully reflate? Can the Bernanke helicopter stay aloft? Can we produce a nominal GDP growth rate, whether it's laden significantly with inflation or more significantly with real growth? But can we produce an old normal economy of four to five percent nominal growth? You know, it's not necessarily a slam dunk that we can. Japan has proven that for the past several decades. There are two lost decades."
"The critical element in terms of risk taking going forward is to decide whether or not developed economies can successfully reflate. If they cannot, then -- then a higher quality, safer choice is the best alternative. If they can, then obviously equities, which can cope with inflation, which can produce growth in a reflationary environment is the better choice. But it's critical going forward. And an investment company and an investor must, you know, attempt to make that decision on an annual type of basis because the outcome is not determined at the moment."
Gross on how he's investing his own money:
"A barbell mix of both. I have a substantial amount of bonds. You know, not treasury bonds. In many cases, municipal bonds. But I have a decent mix in terms of global growth companies. I once suggested if we can successfully reflate, and that's the barbell alternative on the optimistic side, then a Procter or a Johnson & Johnson or a Coca-Cola, a global company with half of their revenues coming from outside the United States, with dividends of three and a half to four percent and at least with some growth prospects, obviously much better than a treasury. But that's a choice that you shouldn't make with a hundred percent certainty. That's a choice that you should make with the potential for a deflationary outcome, minimal as it might be in the minds of policy makers."
Gross on what he would take from BlackRock to make it a part of PIMCO:
"I'd take their ETF franchise. I don't know if it'd pay for it but I'd certainly take it if I could take the best of Blackrock. That's an area where PIMCO has not been struggling but it has been behind, and we're coming public with our actively managed total return fund in the next few months, the SEC willing. So it's an area I guess that we're trying to emphasize. I'd also appreciate and would welcome their equity franchise, but PIMCO's trying to become more balanced from the standpoint of being a bond shop to being equally balanced not only domestically and globally but from the standpoint of equity."
Fink on entrepreneurship and job creation in the U.S.:
"The entrepreneurialism of the country is quite unique. You know, we are still a nation that has created the Facebooks, the PIMCOs, the Googles, the Apples, the Bloombergs. You know, we are still the intellectual capital of the world when it comes to software development. We are the innovator of medical research still. There are so many things. So much of this does not create as many jobs as it used to. We've had enormous success in productivity and that productivity is a way for us to be differentiated versus the China and the other places. And all the other countries have this same issue of productivity and how it impacts jobs....I see all the same pitfalls, all the same problems. And the problems are enormous."
Gross on entrepreneurship and job creation in the U.S.:
"The problem I have in terms of job creation, yes, we have Facebook and Google and Apple, and it's been significant in terms of profit creation. But it hasn't been significant in terms of job creation. And to a certain extent, yes, the entire world is subject to this problem of technology in which we are basically raging against the machine, so to speak, the technology machine. In a sense, the creative destruction is applicable from the standpoint of destruction. But from the standpoint of job creation not necessarily so. There are wonderful benefits from Facebook and Google and our iPads. But we're not seeing it in terms of job creation going forward. And that creates a weakness not just in the United States, but globally."