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Ray Dalio: Fed Should Look Beyond Average Stats

Financial conditions for white men without a college education have “deteriorated significantly,” according to the Bridgewater Associates founder.

  • Alicia McElhaney

Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio said Monday in a LinkedIn post that “average statistics” are giving policymakers an incomplete picture of economic conditions as they no longer reflect the average person.

The world’s largest hedge fund is taking a closer look at the U.S. population by focusing on two groups based on wealth: the bottom 60 percent and the top 40 percent, according to the post from Dalio, Bridgewater’s chairman and chief investment officer. The billionaire is urging the Federal Reserve to consider the less fortunate when making policies because the increasing disparity in financial conditions may result in a misreading of economic health.

“To understand what’s going on in ‘the economy,’ it is a serious mistake to look at average statistics,” Dalio wrote. “Average statistics camouflage what is happening in the economy, which could lead to dangerous miscalculations, most importantly by policy makers.”

The bottom 60 percent of the population is struggling in part because of low income growth, a decline in manufacturing jobs, health concerns and inadequate retirement savings, according to his LinkedIn post. They’re also receiving a “much worse education” than those who can afford more expensive tuitions, he said.

Dalio has been using the networking website more frequently this year to weigh in on the economy and political climate. In August, Dalio wrote that the country is at its most divided politically and economically since 1937. In his latest post, he digs more deeply into these divisions.

[II Deep Dive: Ray Dalio: United States Most Divided Since 1937]

Conditions for white men without a college education have “deteriorated significantly” over the past 30 years, Dalio wrote, saying the group “swung most strongly to help elect” President Donald Trump. The bottom 60 percent increasingly believes that others will take advantage of them, he said, while only about a third of the group saves income.

“If you give rich people more money, they probably won’t spend much of it, whereas if you give poorer people more money, they will probably spend more of it, each motivated by the extent of their unmet needs and desires,” he wrote.

Dalio said he would monitor the 60 percent closely if he were running the Fed, as an economic downturn would likely have severe social and political consequences.

“Having this perspective will be very important for those who determine fiscal policies and for investors concerned with their wealth management,” he wrote. “We expect the stress between the two economies to intensify over the next 5 to 10 years.”