RAY DALIO: Global growth no longer has an engine

Ray Dalio, the leader of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Assets, is worried about growth in the global economy.

As he sees it, there is no “locomotive” to drive growth.

For the past few years, China has driven a third of all the growth in the world, but it’s slowing down, which will act as a drag on global growth.

He’s also worried about the effectiveness of monetary policy right now. He wonders if it can do anything to spur growth or not.

We interviewed Dalio in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. Here’s what he said:

Traditionally, the United States was a world locomotive. In other words, when it began its growth that would help to create exports to other countries. Since 2008, China represented a third of world growth, not only the growth in China, but their imports — countries were benefit ting from that growth — that’s what I mean by a locomotive. And right now, the world doesn’t have a locomotive, they don’t have a country that is driving world economic growth.

[We interrupted to say, “so, that’s pretty scary…”]

I think the monetary policy is the issue. Decreased effectiveness of monetary policy. I think that’s an important issue. Are we at the end of central banks’ abilities to squeeze out more debt or money growth? Are we approaching the pushing on a string phenomenon? I believe we are. I think that warrants a lot of discussion and attention about how to deal with that issue.

When we’re look at markets I’m describing, there’s this asymmetric risk. Because, when they push to zero, and they go to quantitative easing, that’s the buying of assets. It pushes the asset prices up, pushes their future returns down. They don’t have much in the way of premium. That premium, or that spread lacking, diminishes the effectiveness of the transmission mechanism.

Like, if you buy a bond, a bond is very much like cash nowadays. That becomes the big question. When we have a weaker asset market and weaker economy and we have risk that monetary policy might be affected, that should be at least on our minds when we’re setting monetary policy.

I don’t think that was of paramount consideration to the Fed. I think should be looked at, because that’s the bigger risk.

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