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Market sell-off is an 'overdue and welcome' correction, top fund manager says

  • Martin Gilbert, co-CEO of multi-billion dollar fund Standard Life Aberdeen, says investors should calm down and believes the recent fall in stock markets is just a long overdue correction.
  • The Dow and S&P 500 wiped their record 2018 gains and the Nasdaq saw its worst day since June 2016 amid frantic selling, which many analysts fear will continue.
  • Gilbert pointed to fears over rising interest rates following positive economic news from the U.S. as the catalyst for the market sell-off.

Martin Gilbert, the co-CEO of multi-billion dollar fund Standard Life Aberdeen, says investors should calm down and believes the recent fall in stock markets is just a long overdue correction.

The Dow Jones plunged more than 1,500 points in Monday afternoon trading in its biggest single drop in history. The Dow and S&P 500 wiped their record 2018 gains and the Nasdaq saw its worst day since June 2016 amid frantic selling, which many analysts fear will continue.

"Panic is already starting to set in," one wealth manager told CNBC.

But Gilbert, whose fund oversees more than $300 billion in assets under management, wrote off those fears. The fund manager maintains this is nothing more than a much-needed market correction after an excessive run-up.

"Overdue & welcome correction," Gilbert wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.

"Global economic outlook is improving but markets have got ahead of themselves, with asset prices indiscriminately inflated by years of QE (quantitative easing). There was an air of complacency."

Martin Gilbert, chief executive officer of Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, speaks during an interview in London, U.K., on Monday, May 16, 2016.
Jason Alden | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Gilbert, chief executive officer of Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, speaks during an interview in London, U.K., on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Indeed, for some time numerous investors have warned of an impending market correction — a backtrack of at least 10 percent to account for price overvaluation.

The record bull run of the past year has been viewed with skepticism by many market watchers, who cautioned over historically overvalued stock prices brought about in part by positive global growth, unhinged exuberance among traders and prolonged stimulus from central banks.

Gilbert is insisting that the current reversal is healthy and needed to bring markets back to reality. The Dow has now fallen a long way from its record high of 26,616 in late January, and the S&P 500 drop saw more than $1 trillion wiped from the market.

"I don't think (the sell-off) has gone too far, I'm not sure it will go hugely much further, but it was probably where we expected to see it," Gilbert told CNBC via phone on Tuesday. "It's been a long expected correction, the largest market decline since August 2011. It's pretty healthy I think."

Asked what he believed to be the catalyst to the sell-off, Gilbert pointed to fears over rising interest rates following positive economic news from the U.S. on Friday, which included wage growth and yet lower unemployment figures.

"Definitely the better-than-expected job numbers are really what the catalyst was, which (made) people fear the economy is going to overheat, or is doing better than everyone thinks, and interest rates are going to go up faster," he said.

The Dow closed at 24,342 on Monday, 8.5 percent from its all-time high, briefly touching correction levels of more than 10 percent before moving back slightly. European and Asian stocks have followed suit in a continued sell-off Tuesday morning.