Mohamed El-Erian's 2014 playbook
As the Federal Reserve looks to shift its approach to quantitative easing and interest rates eventually head higher, expect increased volatility in fixed-income and equities, Pimco's Mohamed El-Erian said Tuesday.
"Yes, absolutely, this is a Fed committed to low rates, but let's not overstate how much control they have over the yield curve," he said, adding that the Fed would likely keep current interest rates into 2016.
On CNBC's "Halftime Report," Pimco's CEO and co-CIO, who oversees $2 trillion in assets, said he saw three distinct issues for the Federal Reserve's impact on markets.
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The first was whether the Fed could continue "disconnecting equity markets from fundamentals."
"How strong is that wedge for the Fed, and is the Fed committed to using the same tools?" he said.
Secondly, El-Erian also noted strong performance in stocks.
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"QE equity markets have done really well. Japan is up 51 percent, 28 percent in dollars. The S&P is up 26 percent," El-Erian said. "But if you look to the rest of the world, and if you look at emerging [markets], they're down 4 percent. This is not a global growth story, guys. This is a QE story. Where QE has been most effective is in getting companies to change their behavior vis-a-vis their capital structure."
Lastly, technical metrics were important to heed, El-Erian said.
"A lot of people are getting sucked in for good reason, but at some point this becomes a technically fragile market," he said. "So, put all this together, our sense is: Focus on what's more certain and lower a little bit the QE trade because the QE trade is getting pretty old, especially when the Fed is looking to pivot away from QE. …"
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As part of his 2014 playbook, El-Erian said that emerging markets are looking relatively more attractive than U.S. stocks and that the front end of yield curves were a safer bet than the long term.
"On the equity side, what I would say is: Lower a little bit the U.S. exposure and start taking exposure elsewhere—all this within the context of lowering your equity beta," he said. "On the fixed income, focus on the alpha opportunities, which are located in the curve. And then, if you are a credit investor, look for companies that offer the following: strong balance sheets and exposure to growth.
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"This is no longer a classic asset-class trade. This is going to be a much more differentiated market, both in fixed income and in equities going forward."