Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones believes inflation is here to stay, posing a major threat to the U.S. markets and economy.
“I think to me the No. 1 issue facing Main Street investors is inflation, and it’s pretty clear to me that inflation is not transitory,” Jones said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s probably the single biggest threat to certainly financial markets and I think to society just in general.”
Jones said the trillions of dollars in fiscal and monetary stimulus is the impetus for inflation to run hotter for longer. To rescue the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve has added more than $4 trillion to its balance sheet through its open-ended quantitative easing program, while the U.S. government has unleashed over $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus.
“Inflation can be much worse than what we fear. We have the demand side of the equation … and that is $3.5 trillion greater than what it normally would have … just sitting in liquid deposits,” Jones said. “They can go into stocks, or crypto, or real state, or be consumed, so that’s a huge amount of dry powder just sitting waiting to be utilized at some point, which is why inflation is not going away.”
The longtime trader said price pressures will continue to rise in the coming months. Inflation ran at a fresh 30-year high in September amid supply chain disruptions and extraordinarily strong demand.
The core personal consumption expenditures price index, which is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, increased 0.3% in August and was up 3.6% from a year ago.
“It’s absolutely dead for a 60/40 portfolio, for a long stock, long bond portfolio. So the real question is how you defend yourselves against it,” Jones said.
The founder and chief investment officer of Tudor Investment Corp. said that it’s time to double down on inflation hedges including commodities and Treasury inflation-protected securities, and that investors should avoid fixed income in this inflationary and low-rate environment.
“You don’t want to own fixed income,” Jones said. “You do not want to hold that whatsoever because what they’re saying, what they’re telling you by their actions, is that they’re going to be slow and late to fight inflation and somewhere down the road, somebody will have to come in … and put the hammer down.”
Still, the legendary investor didn’t sound too dire about stocks, saying they could be a decent bet amid persistent inflation. Jones said if the Fed moves to address inflation, it could compress equity multiples.
“Equities are interesting. Certainly in an inflationary world, they are a much better bet than fixed income,” Jones said.
The S&P 500 is up about 20% in 2021, sitting less than 1% from its all-time high reached in early September.
Jones shot to fame after he predicted and profited from the 1987 stock market crash. He is also the chairman of nonprofit Just Capital, which ranks public U.S. companies based on social and environmental metrics.
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