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One time Bond King and Triple Crown of Newport Beach Bill Gross’ retirement last year was perhaps overdue, and was certainly welcomed by his investors, employer and employees. But it did leave a gaping hole in American letters, for Gross was an epistolary genius in the field of investment outlooks. To be sure, many of these missives were only marginally or tangentially related to the economic picture or matters that might be of interest to the fixed-income investor, but for their insight into the life, psyche and family of an extremely successful and potentially even more deranged money manager, they have and will never have an equal.

It must, alas, be said that in the wake of Gross’ divorce from his wife of three decades and muse (and shockingly accomplished forger), these letters took a dark and disturbing turn. But they were only a foretaste of what was to come. For while clients and companies could prevent Gross from managing money, they could not keep him from sharing his thoughts. And so, seven months after being put out to pasture, Gross’ investment outlook returned, in exactly the form you’d expect from a 75-year-old: A PDF clearly typed in Microsoft Word, with a piece of clipart at the top. The first of these family holiday newsletter-style messages was straightforward—and familiar—enough, 500 words predicting doom thanks to the Fed. The second, back in July, assured us that Gross had avoided the ‘rona out on the links, and also that he’s doing pretty much what you’d expect in retirement, which is to say watching CNBC all the time.

But this month’s third edition takes Gross’ propensity to air his dirty laundry and tell embarrassing stories about his family on the pretext of an extremely flimsy analogy to matters economic, and the recent darkening of his mind and outlook, to whole new, unsettling levels. Let’s review.

First, Bill Gross hated his mother, but not enough to defy her by getting a tattoo during his Navy days.

She swore that when I went into the Navy that if I came back with “Mom” plastered on either arm, that she’d disown me, but I wasn’t into it – my mom or the tattoo.

Second, Bill Gross’ son hates him—and Bill reciprocates.

I haven’t inspected [son Nick’s tattoos] closely but I know at least they don’t say “Dad” -- thank goodness -- because we’re estranged for some odd reason and he’d want to have it removed now….

So Nick would be quite a disappointment to Grandma and now is, as the reader can tell – to me. My two older kids Jeff and Jenn are relatively tattoo free. Jennifer has one on her leg and probably elsewhere – a Dad can’t know these things -- and Jeff…Well as his mom and my first wife says at birthday parties, “he’s perfect”.

Guess there is always one tattooed (black) sheep in every family. Nick is mine.

Yea, Nick's the black sheep, and we can’t begin to imagine why he might not want to have much to do with his father. Certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the (allegedly) monstrous way in which Bill handled his divorce from Nick’s mom, a split that the elder Gross continues to handle with dignity and sangfroid.

He even has the name “Gross” tattooed on the inside of his lip which drives my ex-wife Sue mad and was and is now the only tattoo that I truly enjoy, if only for that reason. Revenge by tattoo I suppose.

Nor could it be Bill’s joy in sharing intimate details of Nick’s life (from the very beginning) or creepy musings about his love life with strangers, surely.

I wonder though how anyone sees it and if it’s supposed to be romantic.

I cynically envision the locking of lips, whenever it occurs, involving a mirror image, sort of like the one a dental assistant would use to discover cavities on his left molar. Kind of a weird makeout would be the result I suppose, but then millennials are a strange group and prior to the lip locking when connected on Tinder, the prospective young lady would swipe right on her phone in eager anticipation of locking on to that rather “Gross” thing on the inside of his lip.

So much for “treasure your pets and all living things.” Anyway, Bill, just a reminder that the words “Investment Outlook” are at the top of this thing, just above this artist’s rendering of your baby boy.

gross tattoo

Well the global economy has been tattooed in 2020 by an invisible virus – like the one on the inside of Nick’s lip I suppose. No hidden lip tattoo here, the virus’ effects are clearly visible.

Well, that’s an even longer walk for a shorter drink of water than we expected, but since we’re here, let’s hear him out.

My opinion is that much – if not all of the U.S. fiscal stimulus is over. To continue to pump the economy in future years would require not just a 4 trillion dollar deficit but a 5 or 6 trillion dollar one. And to reduce the deficit to 3 or 2 trillion would actually be known in economist speak as “fiscal drag” and would have to be made up by at least 6% to 7% real annual growth for years and years in the private sector – a Trumpian or a Bidenian dream I suppose but not realistic…. There is little money to be made almost anywhere in the world – Covid 19 vaccine or no.

Our global economy’s tattoo cannot easily be removed for years to come.

Investment Outlook From Bill Gross, September 2020 []

h/t Bess


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