Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bill Gross' Self-Serving Advice On Fannie & Freddie

Yesterday's business news was filled with various reports concerning the federal government's big Fannie/Freddie conference.

Perhaps the most misrepresented and self-serving of all the comments on the event belonged to PIMCO senior executive Bill Gross.

Appearing on CNBC in the afternoon, after apparently making his views known at/to the conference, Gross, almost alone among financial market participants and pundits, declared that the feds must do more in mortgage finance through Fannie and Freddie, not less.

At least Susan Wachter, whom I remember from my days at Wharton, acknowledged that a GSE-free mortgage market was preferable. But she simply contended it was, for at least the next half-decade, simply no longer feasible.

But Gross went much, much further.

As the guy who is primarily responsible for PIMCO's reportedly huge inventory of GSE paper, he went all in to protect his career and investors, insisting that government guarantees of Fannie and Freddie paper be ironclad, continuing and even more generous in the future.

The amazing part is how reverentially CNBC's anchors treated Gross during his appearance. They lobbed softballs at him, carefully avoiding mention of how he is simply lobbying to protect his book, nevermind the overall health of the financial markets. Instead of exposing this bias, they treat Gross as some sort of expert pundit on the matter.

Why? Probably access. If anyone on CNBC ever really challenged Gross' comments and positions for being as self-serving as they are, he'd likely never return. Then CNBC would be shut out of interviews with the most senior guy at what is arguably the largest, or one of the largest, fixed-income holders of all institutional investors.

So, to retain access, CNBC's on air staff turn a blind eye to Gross' obvious biases when he comments on the structure of the US residential finance sector.

No comments: