Investors should quit chasing stocks in parts of the world where central banks are flooding the market with liquidity and instead look to start-ups and private equity, economist Mohamed El-Erian said Thursday.
"We are coming from a period in which liquidity has been the major driver of asset prices," Allianz' chief economic advisor told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "What the market is telling you today is, 'You know what? That is no longer sufficient to maintain prices at a high level.' You need something more, and that something more is fundamentals."
"That is why differentiation has become so important."
El-Erian advised investors to "barbell" their portfolios by reallocating some of their exposure to public markets in two areas: cash, in order to give them options during likely corrections, and higher risk and less liquid opportunities, which he said central banks cannot affect as easily.
"Don't give up on some really exciting opportunities that are happening in the start-up world, in the private equity world," he said. "There's a lot going on, especially in tech."
Rather than looking at countries for risk opportunities, investors should look at themes. One of the most exciting trends is disruption of traditional sectors such as finance and media by outside tech companies, he said.
"They're disrupting because their core competencies are coming from outside the sector that they are disrupting, and that is a very powerful investment theme," he said.