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Rating:Fortune Asks: Does Gross Wield Too Much Influence? Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, February 23, 2009

Fortune Asks: Does Gross Wield Too Much Influence?

by: Armie Margaret Lee

Fortune's Katie Brenner, in an article published Friday, raises the question of whether Pimco's influence has grown too large. The Newport Beach, California-based firm, led by Mohamed El-Erian and Bill Gross, skillfully navigated the tough bond market. The company also runs the Federal Reserve's $251 commercial paper program and is one of four asset managers selected to manage the $500 billion program to purchase mortgage-backed securities. With several bond market players now sitting on the sidelines, Pimco is acting as a buyer of last resort for hedge funds and others seeking to sell bonds.

"This is a bilateral monopoly with one big seller and one big buyer," says Peter Cohan, a venture capitalist and management consultant. "Gross, a famously good gambler, knows that winning in this type of market means not threatening when to buy when the government needs to sell. Gross has the government in a weak negotiating position."

Adds Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher: "Gross is a deeply conflicted player given undue sway in matters of public interest that are potentially at odds with his positions."

Addressing the criticisms, Gross tells Brenner that the policy prescriptions he proposed "were a realistic attempt to assist the markets. In my eyes, they had nothing to do with bailing out our positions."

Gross also says he has no contact with Pimco employees who manage government money. 

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