Global financial markets are living on borrowed time with geopolitical crises and deflationary risks still a concern, private-equity billionaire Wilbur Ross told CNBC.
"I think [markets] are living on borrowed time because investors have no alternatives," the chairman and chief executive of private equity firm WL Ross & Co told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" on Monday.
"Everyone's scared to death of long-term fixed incomebecause we know rates will be going up, short-term fixed income doesn't giveyou any yield, commodities are going no place except down [so] where else canyou put money unless you want to buy a $100 million [Alberto] Giacometti sculpture," he said.
So far, it has been a calm November for global stock markets when compared to the sharp selloff and volatility seen in October on the back of global growth worries. In the last thirty days, for instance, the FTSE100 has gained 7.4 percent and the S&P 500 and Dow Jones almost 10 percent– and the Nasdaq over 11 percent -- from the market plunge seen in mid-October.
Ross told CNBC earlier in the year that his company had been selling six times as much as it had been buying on the back of attractive stock valuations in the U.S. "We have been a seller on balance, not because we think a terrible crash is coming but we need to sell opportunistically because we tend to have relatively large stakes in relatively thin securities so we have to sell when the markets are very strong."
However, he added that geopolitical risks could still derail the apparent market recovery seen of late. "Markets tend to go farther in both directions than one might anticipate. I do think the big worries are geopolitical worries, that's one of the things we've been very concerned with all year and I've some concern about deflation becoming anew problem."
China 'worth another look'
There were certainly other markets to look for yield, Rosssaid, with Chinese stocks worth another look after the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect got under way on Monday. The program opens China's A-share markets (which had previously been mainly restricted to mainland citizens) to foreign investment.
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"I think a very interesting market is becoming the Chinesestocks. They had been kind of bashed by thefears of recession in China but now with this linkage between Shanghai and HongKong and the tax benefits and all that, I think that market deserves another look," Ross said.
China has been the best-managed economy for decades, headded. "They avoided the big Asia crisis in the late 90s, [they've] never had to devalue their currency, they've been doing just fine. I don't think it's surprising that there should be some bumps as they try to transition from an investment and export-led economy to a consumer–based economy. I think they're managing [that transition] pretty well."
Ross was not so sanguine on the prospects of the Britishe conomy, however, should it leave the European Union (EU), saying it would be"a very poor idea." The issue of Britain's place in the EU is a hot topic in the U.K. Debates over immigration and the benefits and disadvantages of EU membership now loom large ahead of a general election in 2015 and potential in-out referendum in 2017.
"The last thing that the U.K. economy needs is confusion and whatever else you might say about pulling out,there will be confusion. What will be the relationship with former treaties, with the Commonwealth? On and on and on it could go…It's very risky to do."
Speaking on the plunge in the oil price –the price of Brent crude has declined more than a quarter since June and was trading at $79 a barrel on Monday -- Ross said he expected the oil price to recover as oil producers cutting back on production.
"I don't see oil zooming back up any time soon. I think it probably doesn't collapse from here because you will start to see Canadian oil sands cut back, you'll see the high-cost, offshore deepwater [drilling] cutting back and you'll see some parts of the U.S. shale [industry] shutting down." He said Russia, which relies on energy exports for much of its wealth, should be very worried about the oil price.