Jeremy Grantham On U.S. Bonds, Stocks, And A Market Crash

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity may have noticed I retired the “Crash Prophets” page earlier this month (too much time to update). For those not familiar with this section, it’s where I compiled the investment activities/recommendations of “crash prophets” Dr. Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff (designation earned by being smart enough to spot the 2008 economic crisis and warning of future financial turbulence). Despite the retirement, I will continue to blog about the latest from these soothsayers.

And this morning I want to talk about Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (currently overseeing $74 billion in client assets). In case readers missed it, a couple of weeks ago Grantham, whose individual clients have included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, took part in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The “crash prophet” discussed the booming U.S. stock market, a potential crash, and U.S. bonds. John Coumarianos wrote on the WSJ website on November 5:

With the S&P 500 up more than 15% this year, it may be time for a reality check. To that end, we spoke with Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist at Boston-based money manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. and a noted spotter of market bubbles.

He thinks U.S. stocks and bonds will fail to generate inflation-beating returns over the next seven years, but he doesn’t see an imminent crash in share prices…

Mr. Grantham has already cemented his legend by arguing that U.S. stocks were overvalued in 2000 and again in 2007, anticipating the market’s two most-recent crashes. He also noted before the 2008-09 financial crisis that the relationship between home prices and income had become unglued, and said at least one large financial institution would fail.

By Mr. Grantham’s lights, U.S. stock prices are again high, with an overall Shiller price/earnings ratio (share price relative to the past decade of real average earnings) over 30, compared with its average of 16.8 since 1880. But profit margins also are unusually high, lending support to the high valuations, he says. And the Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping interest rates low supports share prices by making fixed-income investments less attractive as an alternative to stocks.

So this time, instead of a crash, stock valuations may take decades to revert to anywhere near the long-term average, Mr. Grantham says…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The actual interview proved insightful, with Grantham communicating his bullishness on foreign stocks. The exchange can be read in its entirety here on The Wall Street Journal website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

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