PIMCO bond guru Bill Gross says the U.S. needs to close its “fiscal gap” quickly, or risk a Greece-like debt crisis.
In his latest investment commentary, Gross says that he doesn’t think “Armageddon is … around the corner. I don’t believe in the imminent demise of the U.S. economy and its financial markets.” But, he says, he’s afraid. He points to reports from the International Monetary Fund, Congressional Budget Office, and Bank of International Settlements that all paint a dark picture for the U.S. debt situation. “What they’re saying is that when it comes to debt and to the prospects for future debt, the U.S. is no ‘clean dirty shirt’”, Gross asys. “The U.S., in fact, is a serial offender, an addict whose habit extends beyond weed or cocaine and who frequently pleasures itself with budgetary crystal meth. Uncle Sam’s habit, say these respected agencies, will be a hard (and dangerous) one to break.”
On average, Gross says, the three studies suggest the U.S. must cut its fiscal gap — which unlike the “deficit” includes future estimated entitlements like Medicare and Social Security — by 11% of GDP over the next five to 10 years. That means spending cuts and taxes of $1.6 trillion per year — about four times what the failed Congressional Super Committee was considering.
Gross says that if the U.S. doesn’t get things under control, it risks losing its status as the top destination for global capital and could undergo irreparable harm. “Unless we begin to close this gap, then the inevitable result will be that our debt/GDP ratio will continue to rise, the Fed would print money to pay for the deficiency, inflation would follow and the dollar would inevitably decline,” he says. “Bonds would be burned to a crisp and stocks would certainly be singed; only gold and real assets would thrive.”