Billionaire ‘bond king’ Jeffrey Gundlach blasted stimulus checks for distorting markets – and warned inflation could threaten stock prices

Jeffrey Gundlach
Jeffrey Gundlach

  • Billionaire investor Jeffrey Gundlach warned stimulus checks are distorting markets.
  • The DoubleLine Capital CEO said sustained inflation could hit stock prices.
  • Gundlach called crypto the “poster child” of the speculative mania in markets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeffrey Gundlach underlined the risks of excessive federal stimulus in a Yahoo Finance interview this week. He also warned sustained inflation could hammer stock prices, and suggested bitcoin’s recent slump might indicate that market speculation is on the decline.

The billionaire founder and CEO of DoubleLine Capital, whose nickname is the “bond king,” said multiple rounds of stimulus checks have distorted several parts of the economy. They have fueled the sharp rise in US house prices over the past year, he said, and discouraged some recipients from working because they’re “making more money sitting at home watching Netflix.”

“One of the dangers that we’ve opened the door to is these stimulus checks are starting to feel like they might not go away,” Gundlach added.

The DoubleLine boss was caught off-guard by inflation data this week that showed consumer prices jumped the most in 11 years last month. His firm’s models were predicting higher inflation in another month or two, and he still expects the peak to be in July, he said.

“If we keep going higher from there, then I think people are going to be seriously worried,” he continued, explaining that it would rule out a temporary increase in prices due to the economy reopening.

Moreover, sustained inflation could pressure the Federal Reserve into raising interest rates and pumping less liquidity into markets. “That’s gonna be problematic for the valuation of the stock market,” he said.

Gundlach linked the cryptocurrency boom and meme-stock frenzy to stimulus checks later in the interview.

“Gamestop, all these things, a lot of people are just playing with this funny money,” he said. “They feel like they’re playing with the house’s money, so it actually does resemble a casino to them, psychologically.”

Gundlach, who was bullish on bitcoin last year, compared it to the pre-revenue tech startups that went public in the months before the dot-com crash. “Every era of really highly valued markets, after they’ve run a lot, has some sort of a poster child,” he said. “Here I think it’s really these cryptos.”

The investor suggested bitcoin’s recent correction might indicate the rampant speculation in markets has peaked and may now be easing. “Maybe it’s only temporary, but when you’re looking at a speculative fervor, I look for the poster child to roll over last,” he said.

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Billionaire investor Jeffrey Gundlach warns stocks are hugely overvalued – and amateur traders will worsen the coming crash

Jeffrey Gundlach
Jeffrey Gundlach.

  • Jeffrey Gundlach warned stocks are overvalued and face a brutal downturn.
  • The billionaire investor predicted the stock market will tumble by far more than 15%.
  • The DoubleLine Capital boss also slammed the latest round of US stimulus.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaire investor Jeffrey Gundlach sounded the alarm on stocks and predicted a painful crash on DoubleLine’s Total Return Webcast last week.

Suggesting the stock market is “anything other than very overvalued versus history is just to be ignorant of all the metrics of valuation,” the DoubleLine Capital boss said.

Gundlach gave that reply when asked whether he agrees with Michael Burry of “The Big Short” fame that markets are in a “speculative bubble” and will suffer a “dramatic and painful” decline. He voiced a similar view, saying stocks would fall much more than 15% when the downturn comes.

The so-called “bond king” predicted that many retail investors will cash out when equities turn south, exacerbating the inevitable correction. “We’ll have a tremendous unwind of a lot of the money that thinks that the stock market is a one-way thing,” he said.

Gundlach also issued a stark warning about federal spending during the pandemic. “We’re pretty clearly in a speculative bubble regarding debt and government activity,” he said.

The DoubleLine boss deployed a wealth of economic data to make his arguments. For example, he pointed to rising trade and budget deficits, depressed consumer confidence, record readings on the “Buffett indicator” and other market gauges, heady price-earnings ratios, and the disconnect between growth, employment, and the stock market.

Gundlach made several calls during the webcast. He expects year-on-year inflation of over 3% in June or July, the dollar to weaken in the coming months, and gold prices to bounce back.

Moreover, the investor predicted the VIX – an index known as the market’s “fear gauge” because it measures investors’ volatility expectations – will surge past 100 for the first time when the crash comes. Lofty valuations and the “amateur aspect of the market with Robinhood” will fuel volatility, he said.

Gundlach also criticized President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which was signed into law last week. He called it “shocking” that couples with a household income of $150,000 and three children are set to receive $6,000 in federal support.

Stimulus initiatives are “cooking all of us frogs in a pot,” he said, comparing them to “monetization” programs where governments fund themselves by printing money instead of collecting taxes or borrowing.

“The biggest problem is that we’ve become totally addicted to these stimulus programs,” Gundlach said. He argued that the government is training people to rely on federal support, and could struggle to turn off the tap as a result.

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Billionaire ‘Bond King’ Jeff Gundlach said stocks will crash, predicted a weaker dollar, and questioned bitcoin in a recent interview. Here are the 10 best quotes.

gundlach
2011 Jeffrey Gundlach co-founder and Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of DoubleLine speaks at the 16th annual Sohn Investment Conference in New York May 25, 2011.

  • Jeff Gundlach, the billionaire investor known as the “Bond King,” predicted in a RealVision interview in October that stocks would crash in less than 18 months.
  • The DoubleLine Capital CEO also said the US dollar would dive in the long run, argued that tech stocks like Apple and Amazon were the only US equities worth owning, and questioned bitcoin, welfare, and Chipotle’s valuation.
  • Here are Gundlach’s 10 best quotes from the discussion.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a RealVision interview filmed and released in early October, the billionaire “Bond King” Jeff Gundlach said stocks would crash within 18 months, predicted that the US dollar would tumble in the long run, and voiced his doubts about bitcoin.

Gundlach, the founder and CEO of DoubleLine Capital, also called out Chipotle’s valuation, criticized welfare, and argued that the only US equities that made sense to own right now were the largest technology stocks.

Here are Gundlach’s 10 best quotes from the conversation, condensed and lightly edited for clarity:

1. “Valuation makes absolutely zero difference when you’re in a true, brutal bear market. You just go to prices that you just can’t believe.” – on the tricky 1994 bond market and how it prepared him for the financial crisis.

2. “I’m actually long the dollar now, even though I don’t believe in it at all. It’s a good investment for the next five years.” Gundlach added that he was “very, very negative long term on the US dollar” because of the ballooning budget deficit and the prospect of higher inflation, and that he sees betting against it as “the big trade for the years ahead.”

3. “If I want it to invest for my great-great-great-great-grandchildren, I’m positive that certain real-estate investments and certain resource investments would be obvious winners. Who cares about your great-great-great-grandchildren?” – on the need for fund managers to balance the lower risks of a longer investment time frame with investors’ impatience.

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 15 stocks set to deliver the strongest possible profit growth and subsequent returns through year-end

4. “If you want to own US stocks, you should own those six knowing that you’re going to take a bloodbath if you overstay your welcome … You’ve just got to have your finger on the exit button or pretty close by, but I think that’s your only chance of making money.” – advising people that they should own Apple, Amazon, and the other “big tech” stocks that have driven the market in recent years.

5. “The one that just blows my mind is Chipotle. I just can’t understand why the stock has tripled over the last six months. It just baffles me. Isn’t the price-to-earnings ratio like 150 or something? That’s a lot of tacos.”

6. “I do think that within 18 months it’s going to crack pretty hard. When the next big meltdown happens, I think the US is going to be the worst-performing market.” – predicting a stock-market crash that would be exacerbated by a weakening dollar.

Read more: ‘The largest financial crisis in history’: A 47-year market vet says the COVID-19 crash was merely a ‘fake-out sell-off’ – and warns of an 80% stock plunge fraught with bank failures and bankruptcies

7. “It’s comical how people talk about modern monetary theory or universal basic income as some wacky idea. We’ve been doing it since the 1960s. What do you think welfare is? It’s universal basic income, just for a certain subset of the population. It hasn’t exactly solved the problems. In fact, in my view, it’s made it much worse.”

8. “I don’t believe in bitcoin. I think that it’s a lie. I think that it’s very tracked, traceable. I don’t think it’s anonymous.” Gundlach later added that he was “not at all a bitcoin hater.”

9. “I prefer things that I can put in the trunk of my car. I prefer my Mondrian on the wall to a digital entry that has the same value.” – on his preference for physical investments

10. “It will be quite a pleasant experience to not be in the car on the first wheel of the roller coaster that’s coming.” – on his cautious approach to investing in anticipation of a crash

Read more: Bank of America lays out its scenario for how the next big top in stocks will form – and pinpoints the trigger that could cause a meltdown shortly after

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