Gross: Fix Labor If You Want To Fix Wall Street

PIMCO’s Bill Gross says that America must focus on helping its laborers if it wants to help the economy — and Wall Street.

“Long-term profits cannot ultimately grow unless they are partnered with near equal benefits for labor,” Gross writes in his latest investment outlook. “Washington, London, Berlin and yes, even Beijing must accept this commonsensical reality alongside several other structural initiatives that seek to rebalance the global economy. The United States in particular requires an enhanced safety net of benefits for the unemployed unless and until it can produce enough jobs to return to our prior economic model which suggested opportunity for all who were willing to grab for the brass ring — a ring that is now tarnished if not unavailable for the grasping.”

Gross cites three “structural roadblocks” that are hampering the U.S. economy, and says policymakers are ignoring them in order to focus on cyclical financial solutions that won’t last. First, he says, globalization has “hollowed developed economy labor markets”; second, technology “has outdated entire industries that produce physical as opposed to ‘cloud’-oriented goods and services”; and third, an aging demographic is “now favoring savings as opposed to consumption in almost all developed nations.”

Gross says if those issues aren’t addressed, the economy — and investments — will languish. “There are no double-digit investment returns anywhere in sight for owners of financial assets,” he contends. “Bonds, stocks and real estate are in fact overvalued because of near zero percent interest rates and a developed world growth rate closer to 0 than the 3-4% historical norms. There is only a New Normal economy at best and a global recession at worst to look forward to in future years.”

One suggestion from Gross: The U.S. should promote “Buy American” programs. “China and Brazil do it,” he says. “Why not us?”