The Fed will be forced to buy more bonds as US stimulus drives up interest rates, Ray Dalio says

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The ‘king of hedge funds’ Ray Dalio had a nightmarish 2020

  • The Federal Reserve will be forced to increase its quantitative easing program by buying more bonds as interest rates continue to rise, according to Ray Dalio.
  • Dalio believes the recent $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus bill will spur more treasury offerings by the US government, further damaging the “supply/demand problem for bonds,” Dalio said.
  • In its most recent Fed meeting, chairman Jerome Powell said its current monetary policy is appropriate.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The Federal Reserve is going to have to revamp its quantitative easing program and buy more bonds to help limit the rise in interest rates, according to hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio and first reported by Bloomberg.

In a Saturday panel at the China Development Forum, Dalio said the recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill will lead the US government to raise more money by issuing more treasury bonds, further worsening the “supply/demand problem for the bonds.”

That supply and demand problem for bonds will lead to a further rise in interest rates, which has already wreaked havoc on certain parts of the stock market like the high-growth technology sector as the 10-year Treasury yields climbed to a pre-pandemic high of 1.75% last week.

A continued rise in interest rates “will prompt the Federal Reserve to have to buy more [bonds], which will exhibit downward pressure on the dollar,” Dalio said. The Fed already buys about $120 billion in bonds per month.

In a dire scenario, Dalio explained that the world is “very overweighted in bonds” that have a negative yield, and that “not only might there be not enough demand, but it’s possible that we start to see the selling of those bonds,” according to Bloomberg.

According to Bank of America, there is currently $13.7 trillion in negative yielding debt. In the event that bonds are liquidated by investors, “that situation is bearish for the dollar,” according to Dalio.

Despite the concerns, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that its current monetary policy is appropriate, and pushed back against the idea that the recent jump in interest rates pose a problem to the economy.

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BlackRock’s bond chief Rick Rieder breaks down why he’s not worried rising yields will hurt the stock market

Rick Rieder

The recent rise in bond yields has left some investors worried about what it means for the stock market, but Rick Rieder told CNBC he’s not that worried. 

As the 10-year Treasury yield rose to its highest point in over a year Thursday, the CIO of global fixed income explained that the rise in yields should be taken into historical perspective.

“We started from negative 1%. The history of real rates, on average the last 25 years, the average has been about 1.5% positive and usually, when you get this sort of economic growth, you’re talking about real rates that go to 3%, 4%, 5% positive,” said Rieder. “We may get to zero percent real rates, so you still have an extremely accommodative environment.” 

Economic data suggests that the US will see an “explosive growth rate,” and markets are anticipating that yields will have to move higher.

While this happens he anticipates there will be a “little bit of uncertainty” in the stock market and volatility may rise, but then stocks will “recalibrate.”

“I’m not that worried about equities,” Rieder said. 

The bond chief added that there are some stocks with high-flying valuations that will likely pull back as yields move up. High-growth stocks like those in the technology sector are seen as particularly vulnerable to a move higher in yields. On Thursday the Nasdaq suffered over a 3.5% intraday decline. 

Rieder mentioned that his team has been looking into specific areas of technology included AI and the semiconductor space, but they’ve also been adding outside the sector.

“We’ve added to financials. We like the cyclicals, we like the consumer space quite a bit. The adds have been bigger there than in pure technology,” Rieder said.

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