Great insight to the global economic environment from Pimco.
Q: What is PIMCO’s outlook on inflation and interest rates if the situation in the Middle East does not lead to a severe oil shock?
Parikh: Setting aside immediate oil shocks, we believe global inflation has cyclically troughed and we see a secular upswing in inflation, which naturally will put upward pressure on interest rates.
We see three key global factors as potentially adding to inflation over a long horizon:
The degradation of sovereign balance sheets and the structural inflexibility of fiscal deficits.
Emerging markets used to export disinflation to the developed world, but over the secular horizon we see them as exporting inflation.
As populations age, they tend to save less and consume more. Demographics may thus become an inflationary force globally, though possibly this risk will be balanced somewhat by demographics in emerging nations.
In the near term, we anticipate most, though not all, global central banks are likely to err on the side of allowing inflation to rise above stated or implied targets during 2011. In the U.S., if the economic recovery sputters, the Fed could expand quantitative easing. But further deficit accommodation would pose inflation risks.
Q: Finally, could you discuss how PIMCO is applying its global outlook to its investment strategies?
Parikh: Let’s begin with inflation, which is a topic clients often ask us about, and how that applies to our investing decisions. Since we see a secular bias to global inflation, we expect fixed income yields to gradually rise; we believe the 20-plus-year secular duration tailwind that previously anchored portfolios is over.
So we have taken down duration in our strategies, moving to shorter maturity securities. For example, while we still have faith in the credit quality of U.S. Treasuries, we feel yields on longer-dated notes and bonds are likely to rise as the Federal Reserve ends its quantitative easing and investors price in growing inflation risks.
We continue to focus on attractive opportunities in other areas in the U.S. and across the globe, including foreign currencies and credits. There are lots of opportunities in this global marketplace. Finally, we are tempering our near-term enthusiasm for U.S. corporate bonds with a long-term outlook that the U.S. economy must eventually address fiscal deficits, rising rates and the potential for higher oil prices and those could all be negative factors for U.S. companies and the bonds they issue.