Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bill Gross September Commentary Very Cautious

The fully copy can be found at Worth a read. Key Point: "Similarly, the volatility associated with asset liquidation as well as the observable lack of liquidity adds additional risk spread premia, which in turn lower the price of almost any stock, bond or piece of real estate that you or anyone else owns. In combination, the current delevering has managed to sink all three primary asset classes in aggregate, as shown in Chart 1. At first, one might wonder why all the fuss. As the chart demonstrates, there have been prior periods when this trio has not done well and the U.S. economy has hardly blinked. However, the current year-over-year decline of over 10% has never really been witnessed since the Great Depression. That, in and of itself, is a potential red flag. Yet a 10% aggregate asset price decline does more than make us all 10% less wealthy. Because many of these assets are leveraged and margined, the more they decline, the more frequent and frenzied the margin calls, and if the additional cash flow is not provided, not only an asset liquidation but a debt liquidation follows. It is the debt liquidation that potentially turns a stagnant/recessionary economy into something much worse. In the housing market for instance, it is one thing to observe a 15% national decline in home prices. It is much more serious however, when margin calls in the form of monthly mortgage payments (many of which are in-creasing due to adjustable or option-related contractual provisions) lead to foreclosures, which in turn cause a debt liquidation. The bank in this case, takes possession of the home and dumps it back on the market, lowering the price even further, which leads to more foreclosures, which leads to…."

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