Top Stories
Top Stories

US economy just 'doesn't want to grow up:' BofA's Contopoulos

BofA: Fed in 'Fantasyland'

The United States, along with the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, are stuck overseeing 'Peter Pan' economies that refuse to wean themselves off cheap money policies.

That assessment comes from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch Global Research's head of high yield and relative value strategy, who said Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and her global central banking counterparts have been reduced to little more than high ranking babysitters.

"A Peter Pan economy is an economy that just doesn't want to grow up," Michael Contopoulos recently told "Fast Money." The central bankers of the U.S., Japan and Europe "are like three nannies managing the economies. And, that's what they're supposed to be doing.

Speaking about the central banks' mandate for price stability, Contopoulos added: "If you think about it, their job is to spur inflation and growth. It's to baby the economies forward. It's just not happening though."

The analysis coming as the ten-year Treasury note yield fell to multi-year lows this week, breaking the 1.60 percent mark. Meanwhile, the Fed decided leave interest rates unchanged.

"I think rates could go lower. You have ten trillion of negative yielding assets globally. Treasuries, U.S. investment grade and U.S. high-yield are virtually some of the only assets available right now with a positive yield," said Contopoulos, who drives the firm's view on cross assets and the high yield and loan markets. "Fundamentals are weak."

'Fantasy land' companies 'can't hire much more'

As rates remain low or go lower, he believes it makes sense to buy Treasuries and/or high quality assets that have sold off the most.

Meanwhile, the most susceptible to shocks in this uncertain policy environment, according to Contopoulos, are risk sensitive assets—including high-yield.

Contopoulos also points out the problems stretch to earnings, too — a spot that particularly worries him because there are only two ways for companies to grow: Via capital structures and rising equity multiples.

"Either you cut costs, cut CAPEX [capital expenditures] or fire your unproductive labor force. Or, at least stop hiring," he said. "And, I think we/re starting to see a slowing in the labor force because quite frankly, we have a tight labor market and corporations can't hire much anymore."

In a note out earlier this month, Contopoulos warned job losses may grow later this year or early next year due to poor productivity, slowly rising wages and lackluster corporate earnings. The situation is party caused by central banks in 'fantasy-land,' he wrote.

Investors may get a clearer picture of the labor market and policy on Tuesday when Yellen begins two-days of testimony before lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Clarification: Contopoulos made his remarks to CNBC's "Fast Money."