Bill Gross wants you to sneeze -- and make moneyApril 30, 2014: 1:56 PM ET
Bond king Bill Gross enjoys a good sneeze.
The Chief Investment Officer of Pimco (PTTRX), which has nearly $2 trillion in assets under management, writes fondly of this bodily function in his latest investment outlook, which is titled "Achoo!"
Gross says the explosion of air from his nose is "sort of half erotic," though he admits that "there can be an embarrassing aftermath."
In more civilized times, people used to carry something called a handkerchief, but alas those days are done, Gross laments.
While he seems troubled by the lack of hankie use in modern-day sneezing, Gross does not believe it's necessary to hand out blessings in response.
Gross states flatly that he does not say "God bless you" or "bless you" when someone sneezes, even if that someone is his wife. This creates an "awkward" situation when both Gross and his wife, Sue, sneeze at the same time.
"I get blessed and she doesn't," he writes. "Not quite fair I suppose, so sometimes I play along and squeeze her hand after the Achoo and tell her I'm blessed to have her – sneeze or no sneeze."
So what does all this sneezing have to do with investments and money?
If the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates too soon, the global economy could catch another cold, he warns.
Interest rates need to remain low, he argues, so that "debtors can survive." It would also make government debt less of a concern.
Gross acknowledges that determining the right policy on interest rates (Gross dubs it a "neutral policy") is not an easy task for Fed chair Janet Yellen or any other central banker to achieve.
But he says focusing on what the neutral rate might be is "the critical key to unlocking value in all asset markets."
Gross believes a neutral interest rate will ultimately be closer to 2%, compared with the 4% rate that Fed officials have targeted in the past.
If that's the case, Gross says stocks and real estate investments will be more attractive than cash. It would also mean that "current fears of asset bubbles would be unfounded."
The bad news is that a 2% rate means that overall investment returns will be lower than in the past. People might have to re-think those 8% returns used in so many retirement and other forecasts.
To survive in this new environment, Gross says investors need to venture out of their comfort zone and take risks they normally wouldn't consider, including putting money into alternative assets, hedge funds and "a higher proportion of stocks vs. bonds in a personal portfolio."
If this outlook makes you feel ill, fear not. Gross and the Pimco team are there to hold your hand. "If you sneeze, we'll just squeeze your hand and tell you we are blessed to have you."