(Bloomberg) -- Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, says it’s time for the Federal Reserve to consider raising interest rates before it is too late.
“We’re in an everything bubble,” Marks said in a Thursday interview with Bloomberg TV’s Erik Schatzker. “I don’t say today, but let’s not miss the opportunity to let the rates float back up,”
The Fed should not hold back out of fear of another “taper tantrum,” Marks said. Pension funds and many other institutional investors rely on getting 7% returns every year, but that may not be possible when the federal funds rate is zero, he noted.
Oaktree is one of the largest specialists in distressed debt, with about $37 billion committed to credit from troubled companies. The Los Angeles-based fund has thrived in times of economic stress, when bonds of companies in danger of defaulting fall to deep discounts.
Today’s credit markets offer “the lowest return we’ve ever seen, prospectively,” Marks said. It is still possible to make more than investing in U.S. Treasuries, but that is getting harder.
“It’s never been this unrewarding,” he said.
The amount of distressed bonds and loans that traded in the U.S. was just $124.7 billion as of Aug. 5, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s down from a peak of nearly $1 trillion last year, aided by the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented steps to steady the economy amid the pandemic.
Separately, Marks said Oaktree Capital is planning to have employees return to its offices on Sept. 13, while acknowledging that could be affected by the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.
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