"A president on his or her own is limited" in responding to an economic slowdown, the Allianz chief economic advisor told CNBC's "Fast Money."
At a campaign stop in Wisconsin on Monday, Trump suggested a "massive recession" would hit the U.S. if he is not elected. The business magnate and Republican presidential contender predicted an economic "mess" without his leadership.
"I'm going to straighten things out before it happens," he said.
El-Erian said he sees a 30 percent chance of a recession next year, with a slowdown even less likely this year. He added that, even if a recession looks imminent, the president's power to curb it is limited by the other branches of government.
He argued that the economy needs less "reliance on central banks" and a "more comprehensive policy response." Separately, markets have priced in further Federal Reserve intervention, leaving stocks more vulnerable if the policy course changes, El-Erian argued.
"It's not just that we're pricing continued central bank support but we're expecting the Fed to reverse course. I don't think that's going to happen, and therefore I think there's vulnerability," he said.
El-Erian said he believes market watchers will continue to view the Fed's policy message as inconsistent.