A recent Barron’s article offers highlights from an interview with Felix Zulauf–owner and president of Zulauf Consulting and retired Barron’s Roundtable member–that touches on markets, bond yields, China and Bitcoin.
Here are some highlights from Zulauf’s comments:
- Low interest rates: We may not be able to exit the era of ultra-low rates, says Zulauf. “Once you start debasing your currency and inflating your financial system constantly and chronically, you can’t stop. If you do, you risk a deflationary accident.” Zulauf argues that the problem lies in a lack of growth across the globe, fueled in part by declining population growth.
- Government spending: The more government is involved in the economy, says Zulauf, the less productive and efficient the economy becomes. “If productivity falls, prosperity declines,” he says, adding, “in the long term, it is the wrong recipe.”
- The U.S. economic outlook: Zulauf contends that if the U.S. launches a large infrastructure program, economic growth will be bolstered for several quarters, and that growth will “flow into the consumer price index sooner or later.”
- Bonds: “I expect the 10-year Treasury yield to rise to the 1.5% area,” says Zulauf, adding, “then we’ll see whether it reaches 2% later this year or early next year.”
- Investments: “The least-attractive assets are long-term bonds, with the caveat that inflation and interest rates could stay low for years. But even then, bonds wouldn’t yield a high return.” The most attractive assets, says Zulauf, are “long-duration assets: the shares of companies that can achieve sales ad earnings growth even in difficult economic and political environments, and real assets.” Zulauf likes agriculture and oil and is also investing heavily in Asia through futures and ETFs. In the U.S., he owns some of the FAANG stocks.
- Gold: According to Zulauf, “gold is dead money this year, but I like it longer term because of the crazy policy moves we’re making. Millennials are buying Bitcoin instead of gold.”
- Bitcoin: “I don’t believe that Bitcoin will ever make it as money used in daily payments. It is too complicated, the price is too volatile, and “mining” it requires too much energy. But as long as people think of Bitcoin as a safe store of value, the price could go higher, and it could become a mania” says Zulauf.