Gundlach’s Forecast for 2019

On January 9 at 11am ET, this article was corrected to indicate that Gundlach predicted a weaker (not stronger) dollar in 2019. On January 11 at 11am, this article was corrected to show that the German bund yield was 0.2%, not 2.2%.

Jeffrey Gundlach said that 2019 will mark the start of a period when bond markets must reckon with the rising federal deficit. In his most passionate comments ever on this topic, he said the exploding national debt and liabilities involving pension funds, state and local government governments and Social Security have reached a stage that is “totally unthinkable.”

Gundlach is the founder and chief investment officer of Los Angeles-based DoubleLine Capital, a leading provider of fixed-income mutual funds and ETFs. He spoke to investors via a conference call on January 8. Slides from that presentation are available here. This webinar was his annual forecast for the global markets and economies for 2019.

Before we look at his 2019 predictions, let’s review his forecasts from a year ago.

His top prediction was that emerging markets and commodities were the best opportunities for 2018. The MSCI emerging market index was down 14.58% last year. But, in fairness, when Gundlach has recommended emerging markets it has always been in the context of a long time horizon – seven years or more. Commodities also did not fare well in 2018. The two largest broad-based commodity ETNs, Shares S&P Commodity-Indexed Trust (GSG) and Dow Jones-AIG Commodity Index (DJP), were down 13.9% and 13.1% respectively.

Related to his commodities prediction, he said the dollar would go down in 2018. It did not; it was up approximately 4.7%.

Gundlach said to avoid the S&P 500, which he predicted would show a loss for the year. It did – the ETF SPY was down 4.45%. He also correctly predicted that stocks would go up in the first half of the year and retreat in the second half.

He predicted economic growth for virtually all countries in 2018. This was accurate; only 14 of the 193 countries tracked in this database had negative GDP growth. He correctly predicted that the U.S. would not enter a recession in 2018.

He said that by the middle of 2018, the Fed and ECB will be shrinking their balance sheets, and potentially Japan will as well. The Fed did contract its balance sheet last year, but those of the ECB and BOJ grew.

He correctly advised investors to short bitcoin. It was down 73.3% in 2018.