Jenn Ablan likes to tell me that people are always writing about PIMCO and Bill Gross, the long reigning “king of bonds.” And when you think of it there’s a lot of truth to that assertion.
Gross’ mammoth $263 billion Total Return Fund gets endless coverage because–by its very size–it really is the bond market. It’s one reason why so much ink is spilled whenever the Total Return Fund has a month where investors pull more money out of the fund than put in. And it’s why there’s so much analysis of what Gross & Co. are doing with Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities–and whether they are using lots of leverage and derivatives to boost exposures.
Then again, it’s hard to ignore Gross & Co. since the bond king and his co-partner and heir apparent, Mohamed El-Erian are on TV virtually everyday offering their views on just about anything doing with the economy.
And so this Sunday’s business section of The New York Times treats us to another big PIMCO story, but this one focusing more on El-Erian than Gross. The main thrust of Geraldine Fabrikant’s story is whether the bond market’s “new leading man” is up to the job of running PIMCO, which has more than $1.7 trillion in assets, and whether he has the same trader mentality as Gross.
It’s an interesting conceit for a story, especially for an investment firm like PIMCO, which is so identified with its founder Gross. It’s hard imagining what PIMCO will be like after Gross–much in the same way it’s hard imagining the giant hedge fund SAC Capital without its namesake and founder Steven A. Cohen, controversy and all.