Voice of Wisdom: Jeremy Grantham - pt3

Precisely 3 months ago, I made the second post about Jeremy Grantham and I think we'll make it a quarterly post, after each of this quarterly investment outlook letter.

Note: Jeremy Grantham is one of the very few Keynesians who can still think straight in many areas (along with Roubini and Stiglitz when it comes to spotting the problems). He even is against bailouts and stimulus packages to the extent where one might ask : why is Keynes his hero?

Here are some more words of wisdom from his Q3 newsletter:
Bernanke, the most passionate cheerleader of Greenspan’s follies, is picked as his replacement, partly, it seems, for his belief that U.S. house prices would never decline and that at their peak in late 2005 they largely just refl ected the unusual
strength of the U.S. economy. As well as missing on his very own this 3-sigma (100-year) event in housing, he was completely clueless as to the potential disastrous interactions among lower house prices, new opaque fi nancial instruments, heroically increased mortgages, lower lending standards, and internationally networked distribution. For these accumulated benefi ts to society, he was reappointed!

Larry Summers, with a Financial Times bully pulpit, had done little bullying and blown no warning whistles of impending doom back in 2006 and 2007. And, famously, in earlier years as Treasury Secretary he had encouraged (I hope inadvertently) wild and reckless fi nancial behavior by helping to beat back attempts to regulate some of the new and most dangerous instruments. Timothy Geithner, in turn, sat in the very engine room of the USS Disaster and helped steer her onto the rocks.
The more misguided or reckless the borrowers, the more determined the efforts to help them out, it appears, although it must be admitted these efforts had limited effect. In comparison, those who showed restraint and either under housed themselves or rented received not even a hint of help. Quite the reverse: the money the more prudent potential buyers held back from housing received an artificially low rate. In effect, the prudent are subsidizing the very same banks that insisted on dancing off the cliff [...]
we have decided to encourage even more home building by giving new house buyers $8,000 each. This cash comes partly from the pockets of prudent renters once again.
To celebrate the overwhelming consensus among economists that U.S. individuals have been dangerously overconsuming for the last 15 years, we have decided to encourage consumption and penalize savers.
Price/earnings ratios, adjusted for even normal margins, are also significantly above fair value after the rally. Fair value on the S&P is now about 860.
I believe we are well on the way to my “emerging emergingbubble” described 18 months ago (1Q 2008 Quarterly Letter). I would recommend to institutional investors, including my colleagues, to give emerging equities the benefi t of value doubts when you can.
I have some modest hopes for a collective sensible resistance to the current Fed plot to have us all borrow and speculate again. I would still guess (a well informed
guess, I hope) that before next year is out, the market will drop painfully from current levels. “Painfully” is arbitrarily deemed by me to start at -15%. My guess,
though, is that the U.S. market will drop below fair value, which is a 22% decline (from the S&P 500 level of 1098 on October 19).
And much much more. Please have a read at the full letter, it's definitely worth it.

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