Amid a seemingly growing list of major company layoffs in 2024, one billionaire bond fund manager is raising questions over some data.
During an interview on “Making Money with Charles Payne,” DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach, known as the “Bond King,” pointed out state unemployment numbers he described as “hard to believe.”
“Amazingly, 88% of the states, and I think they have D.C. in there so there’s 51 of them, 88% of them are reporting rising unemployment over the last six months. And I’m having a very hard time squaring this circle,” Gundlach told FOX Business host Charles Payne on Thursday.
“If 88% of the states are reporting rising unemployment, how can it be that national unemployment remains stable at a very, very low level?” he further posited.
Data from the December jobs report showed the U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 3.7% after rising for three straight months, driven by a sizable drop in the jobless rate for teenagers.
However, a recent report from business and executive firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found the pace of job cuts by U.S. employers accelerated in 2023, with the number of layoffs surging 98% compared with the previous year.
Gundlach pointed out that states which have seen falling unemployment — including Texas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Wyoming — likely won’t offset rising unemployment in states like Florida, Illinois, California and New York.
“I’m skeptical about this data,” the bond king said. “The leading economic indicators have been very negative for a long time. The yield curve has been inverted for a long time. But the thing that I’m most concerned about now economically is reports coming from the states.”
He further noted similarities between markets now and the “inflation fight” in the late 1970s to early ’80s, as well as comparable recession concerns.
“The yield curve has been inverted now for about 80 weeks, maybe a little more than 80 weeks,” Gundlach said. “The only episode that had a longer period of an inverted yield curve before the recession came was in the late ‘70s, early ’80s, which, interestingly, was also the last time we had an inflation fight going on.”
“The 10-year yield was lower than the two-year yield by 108 basis points. And now it’s 18. When you start to invert, you really get to be on recession watch,” he added. “And the fact that recession hasn’t come after 80 plus weeks of yield curve inversion is a very bad logic to say it’s not coming.”
Looking ahead to how the 2024 markets will play out, Gundlach predicted Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will cut rates.
“That’s all political. I think there it lurks in the background,” Gundlach reflected on Fed decisions. “The fact [that] it’s a presidential election year. But I really think it’s about where the economy is, which is in a stable place for now, but where the real interest rates are. So I think investors should buy for two-, three-, five-year treasuries because you’re locking in a rate which isn’t towering, but it’s above the inflation rate which continues to fall.”
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.