Mary Erdoes said she’s worried about unintended consequences of stimulus measures imposed by central banks to cushion economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m not worried about the stimulus” ending, Erdoes, who runsJPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset- and wealth-management unit, said in an interview Monday at the Bloomberg Invest Global 2020 virtual conference. “There’s plenty of liquidity right now to fill the hole. First you’ve got to fill the hole, then you’ve got to get the flywheel of the economy going. You worry about the winners and losers after that.”
She said stimulus measures can make it hard to tell which companies are healthy and which ones aren’t.
“I’m worried about what stimulus does to bad companies that look like walking zombies,” Erdoes said. “The good companies from the bad companies is one of the most important things that we will figure out.”
Erdoes, 52, joins industry veterans expressing concern that a Federal Reserve pledge to buy corporate bonds — which has encouraged risky borrowers to raise billions of dollars — may cause a wave of defaults that makes the current stretch of corporate bankruptcies look mild by comparison.
Speaking on the same panel, James Zelter, co-president of Apollo Global Management Inc., said that the credit market is off of its bottom and that opportunities will be more company-specific.
Apollo has seen opportunities during the coronavirus crisis, and expects to quadruple its $350 billion of assets over the next decade. It put about $50 billion to work in the first six weeks of the pandemic sell-off by purchasing mostly discounted high-grade debt. The firm is raising at least $20 billion to take advantage of distress in the market, which was a successful strategy last financial crisis.
In distressed situations, investors should invest for the long term, Erdoes said. JPMorgan invested with Apollo after the 2008 crisis but that most of the funds weren’t put to work until 2010 and beyond, she said.
“You have to be very patient with what stimulus does and the after-effects of finally sorting through the winners and losers,” Erdoes said. “You have to have the liquidity, you have to be ready to seize the moment when it happens. That’s why so much of this money that has been put in cash and on the sidelines is being allocated to the experts in the distressed field. They’re ready to do that. It’s going to take a long time and you want to be there and you want to have patient capital that isn’t required to follow an index.”
— With assistance by Sabrina Willmer, and Alix Steel
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