Bill Gross’s recent investment outlook has drew mixed reactions in some quarters after he chose to draw a comparison with the bond bear market to the growing backlash against powerful men who sexually harass women.
The bond guru’s newest note adds to a stash of investment letters in which his off-piste thoughts have taken him to the zaniest of places, attracting attention and often incredulity. His commentary often starts with strange life stories, tenuous analogies and left-field metaphors before plunging into his prognostications on the bond market.
Here are some of these unlikely beginnings.
On the under-appreciated qualities of men amid the #MeToo movement, in January 2018:
“Women have gotten the short stick or metaphorically the short rib ever since Eve, and I’m with Oprah for president and much, much more but hey, guys have got a few positive qualities that need to be mentioned. I mean when basketball players miss a free throw these days, they still get ‘low fives’ from all their teammates.”
On how he struggled to lose his virginity, in April 2015:
“Being somewhat of a high school star, I decided to try out for the taxi squad on the freshman team. Duke that year was well stacked with three future All Americans and NBA players but they needed some competition in practice and I was a prospective servant for the greater cause — not Duke — but my chance to show off and eventually get a girl into the backseat of a car for the first time in my life. Neither came to pass as I was cut during the first tryout session and cut frequently as well on second and third dates in parking lots behind the sorority houses.”
On how a bond market selloff in the summer of 2013 compared with the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where more than 19,000 British soldiers were killed, in August 2013:
“Now that bonds have suffered a near Somme-like defeat in the past few months, fixed income investors are concerned about their prior conceptions of bonds as an asset class – an asset that has historically provided reliable income and stable to higher prices”
On his first encounters with attempts at sex education with his son, in August 2016:
“Our biggest challenge came years later when Nick got his hands on one of those trashy ‘Victoria’s Secret’ advertising mailers. As a service to me, Sue always does her best to dispose of them in the garbage can as quickly as possible, but this time Nick had gotten his hands on it and was intrigued not only by the pictures of those plain and unattractive models, but by the name itself. ‘Dad,’ he asked, ‘what is Victoria’s Secret?’ Well now, I quickly thought, does he mean what is Victoria’s Secret or what is Victoria’s Secret?”
On why he shaved his moustache, in March 2009:
“My mother always said there was something shady about a man with hair on his lip, but then she’d never met Mohamed El-Erian and Paul McCulley, whose mothers undoubtedly approve. I think my mom watched too many Charlie Chan movies in her day, but I can’t be sure”
On how Africa drew him to existential reflection, in January 2017:
“I saw myself in Africa and, of course, through my own eyes I saw you there, too. The question however, that ends every stanza of my poem is whether Africa saw and will remember me. Are we just passing through without a trace following our dusty deaths? Will anyone, or anything, at the end of the line be the better for our time on earth? I, myself, know nothing of a grand scheme of existence, but I wish there to be one — if only to give meaning to our precious moments of happiness and frequent hours of despair.”