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Howard Marks Says Fed Moves Have Had Coercive Effect on Markets

Hema Parmar and Katherine Doherty
·2 min read
Howard Marks Says Fed Moves Have Had Coercive Effect on Markets

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve rate actions have had a coercive effect on the markets and forced investors to move into risk assets, according to Oaktree Capital Group co-founder Howard Marks.

“This has required people to invest because they don’t want to sit around with their cash,” Marks said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “They don’t want Treasuries at less than 1% or high-grade bonds at 2%.”

Global credit and equity markets have staged a dramatic rebound since March, when the Fed first took unprecedented steps to steady the economy amid the Covid-19 outbreak. This dramatically cut the amount of distressed debt outstanding and propped up companies that were ailing even before the pandemic hit, depriving value-oriented investors like Oaktree of new targets.

“The greater question is, why is the market making new highs every day if we have these problems?” he said. “The political division in the country is a terrific one but the greatest one of course is the pandemic.”

Discussing Tesla Inc.’s meteoric rise, Marks said the stock is so high some investors may want to sell.

“If you describe an individual not of great needs, he should take some profits,” Marks said. “If he bought Tesla two years ago, he probably has a huge gain. It’s probably a very disproportionate amount of his financial net worth. He should absolutely cut back, unless he really wants to try to hit the long ball.”

Oaktree is one of the largest distressed-debt investors in the world, with more than $19 billion committed to credit from troubled companies. The Los Angeles-based fund has thrived in times of economic stress, when prices on bonds of companies in danger of defaulting fall to deep discounts.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the second paragraph to say high-grade bonds.)

(Adds comments on market in fourth paragraph and Tesla penultimate paragraph.)

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