Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Risk Factor

Mohamed A. El-Erian

Will United States Treasury bills retain their gold-plated status? What would a more freely floating Chinese renminbi mean for the world economy? Is the eurozone a good bet to survive and grow? Can emerging-market countries somehow insulate themselves, at long last, from the destructive effects of volatile global capital flows?

In the early 1990’s, Bill Clinton’s adviser and campaign manager, James Carville, quipped that if he could be reincarnated, he would come back to life not as a king or a pope, but as the bond market, “which can intimidate everyone.” Indeed, financial markets now seem to have governments more at their mercy than ever before, as Europe’s sovereign-deb

But financial markets are neither evil and dictatorial nor beneficent and democratic. They need to be understood, not vilified. And few people have been more successful at comprehending financial markets – both theoretically and practically – than Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, one of the world’s largest investment companies, with approximately $1.2 trillion of assets under management.

El-Erian, whose career has taken him from the International Monetary Fund to managing Harvard University’s endowment, is one of the few financiers whose words consistently move markets. Unlike most financiers, he is willing and able not only to explain the arcane workings of bond and other asset markets, but also to synthesize the fundamental factors – economic policies, growth prospects, or sector-specific trends – that move them. His description of the post-financial-crisis global economy as a “new normal” of slow growth and high unemployment for the foreseeable future encapsulated and ratified what many feared but few would say.

Every month in The Risk Factor, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, Mohamed El-Erian combines the highest professional and managerial experience with his proven analytical talent to provide an essential guide to key economic developments that no ordinary pundit or academic observer can match.

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