Income

Jeremy Grantham: Avoid U.S. Stocks, ‘Heavily Overweight’ Emerging Market Equities

When I last blogged about “Crash Prophet” Jeremy Grantham right after Thanksgiving, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (currently overseeing $74 billion in client assets) had just mentioned in a Wall Street Journal interview that although U.S. stock prices were high, profit margins were also are unusually high, lending support to high valuations. In addition, low interest rates make equities more attractive than fixed-income investments. As a result, he didn’t forecast a crash is stock prices as much as a decades-long reversion to anywhere near the long-term average.

Now, regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I like to read and pick apart Grantham’s quarterly letters on the GMO website. And his third quarter letter has just been released. Grantham, whose individual clients have included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, penned the following about U.S. equities in “Career Risk and Stalin’s Pension Fund: Investing in a World of Overpriced Assets (With a Single Reasonably-Priced Asset)”:

The trend line will regress back toward the old normal but at a substantially slower rate than normal because some of the reasons for major differences in the last 20 years are structural and will be slow to change. Factors such as an increase in political influence and monopoly power of corporations; the style of central bank management, which pushes down on interest rates; the aging of the population; greater income inequality; slower innovation and lower productivity and GDP growth would be possible or even probable examples. Therefore, I argue that even in 20 years these factors will only be two-thirds of the way back to the old normal of pre-1998. This still leaves returns over the 20-year period significantly sub-par. Another sharp drop in prices, the third in this new 20-year era, will not change this outcome in my opinion, as prices will bounce back a third time

Near-term major declines suggest a much-increased value of cash reserves and a greater haven benefit from high-rated bonds.

My assumption of slow regression produces an expectation of a dismal 2.5% real for the S&P and 3.5% to 5% for other global equities over 20 years, but also a best guess of approximately the same over 7 years.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Grantham’s thoughts on where one might invest?

My conclusion is straightforward: heavily overweight EM equities, own some EAFE, and avoid US equities.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Referring to an exhibit, he pointed out:

1) developed ex-US is well below its 20-year average and 40% below the US; and 2) Emerging is 65% below its high in 2007.

There were also these nuggets from the letter:

Pension funds should brace themselves for a disastrous 1% to 3% return in the next 10 years.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And:

My view on Resources is that the cycle has turned, global economies are doing quite well by recent standards, and oil prices are likely to rise for three years or so.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet another insightful letter from Grantham, which you can read here in its entirety on the GMO site.

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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Illinois Governor Talks Taxes In Budget Address

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) gave his third budget speech on Wednesday, saying the following regarding taxes:

As for revenue, we’ve always said that we’d consider revenue if it comes with changes that create jobs and grow the economy.

The current Senate proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a temporary property tax freeze in exchange. That’s just not fair to hard-working taxpayers across the state.

We need a permanent property tax freeze in Illinois, just like the one the House passed last month. Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down – dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending.

The current Senate proposal would expand the state’s sales tax to cover everyday services, and raise taxes on food and drugs. We’re open to a broader sales tax base to mirror neighboring states like Wisconsin, but let’s make sure it’s best for the people of Illinois, not for the lobbyists in Springfield. We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine – just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes. We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In short, Governor Rauner appears to be open to raising the state income tax rate as long as a permanent property tax freeze is implemented. Furthermore, Rauner looks to be open to expanding the state sales tax to various services, but is against raising taxes on food, medicine, and retirement income.

You can read the entire budget address on the Illinois Government News Network website here.

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

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Illinois ‘Grand Bargain’ Legislation Includes 32 Percent Personal Income Tax Hike

Illinois taxpayers may get hit with a significant income tax hike pretty soon. John O’Connor of the Associated Press reported Sunday on The State Journal-Register website:

If last week’s action is any indication, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Illinois Senate are serious about attempting to bust the state’s 18-month budget deadlock – quickly…

Promising to act on a package by month’s end, they introduced 13 measures Wednesday that included non-budget-related sweeteners for both sides. By Thursday, they had been rapidly assigned public committee hearings…

Here’s a look at other major pieces of the legislation some in the Capitol have nicknamed the “grand bargain”:

* Income tax increase: The personal income tax would jump from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, a plan to generate $4.1 billion a year. With spending cuts, Democrats argue, that could eliminate what the governor’s office estimates will be a $5.3 billion deficit on the June 30 end of the fiscal year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The proposed 32 percent income tax hike is not a sure thing, as O’Connor noted:

The outstanding question is if a Senate-approved deal would ultimately pass muster with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has refused to entertain Rauner’s pro-business agenda as part of budget talks…

Six years ago, the 3 percent personal income tax rate jumped to 5 percent until 2015, when the rate rolled back to the current 3.75 percent.

Like I just suggested to Chicago taxpayers in the previous post, Illinois taxpayers might want to take heed of what’s potentially coming down the pipeline.

Other pieces of legislation include $7 billion more borrowing to pay off overdue bills (now at $10.7 billion), which you can read about on the The State Journal-Register site here.

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

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Robert Shiller: ‘Neither Farmland Nor Housing Has Been A Great Place To Invest Money Over The Long Term’

Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller just torpedoed long-held notions about farmland and residential real estate in this country. The Nobel Prize winner, who correctly-called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade, penned the following on The New York Times website on July 15:

Despite solid price increases over the last few years, land and homes have actually been disappointing investments. It’s worth considering why.

Let’s start by looking at the numbers. The best long-term data on land in the United States is for farmland, which is valuable in its own right and can also be considered a great reservoir that can be converted to housing and other purposes at opportune times.

Over the century from 1915 to 2015, though, the real value of American farmland (deflated by the Consumer Price Index) increased only 3.1 times, according to the Department of Agriculture. That comes to an average increase of only 1.1 percent a year– and with a growing population, that’s barely enough to keep per capita real land value unchanged.

According to my own data (relying on the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which I helped create), real home prices rose even more slowly over the same period — a total increase of 1.8 times, which comes to an average of only 0.6 percent a year.

What all that amounts to is that neither farmland nor housing has been a great place to invest money over the long term…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Neither farmland nor housing has been a great place to invest money over the long term”

Obviously, this goes contrary to what many Americans have believed all along.

However, the fact that farmland can produce income from crops should not be ignored.

Residential real estate may also offer benefits beyond property value. In my case, the single-family dwelling in the Chicago suburbs which my girlfriend and I own is a significant improvement in such areas as security and food production, for example, compared to our previous rental unit in a multi-family building on the city’s Northwest Side.

An interesting piece from Dr. Shiller, which you can read on the Times’ website here.

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

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Quote For The Week

“Somebody says they’re going to make America great again. They need to talk to people for whom it wasn’t so great. And then we need to recognize that white, non-college-educated Americans have seen great drops in their income, have seen great increases in their unemployment rate, have seen drops in their life expectancy. And they need to be brought along to the future. But they can’t live under the illusion that you can reclaim a past which is just that- past. This country is always about the future…”

-Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking at Union County College (Cranford, New Jersey) on June 1

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

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Rich Dad Author Robert Kiyosaki: 2016 Market Meltdown ‘Right On Schedule’

The last time I blogged about Robert Kiyosaki, the American entrepreneur, educator, investor, and author of The New York Times best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad talked about precious metals in a January 27, 2016, GoldSeek.com Radio interview. From his exchange with host Chris Waltzek:

WALTZEK: People taking a longer-term perspective, picking up some precious metals. You get that diversification. You can sleep a little more soundly at night. And you also know that you’re getting silver at 66 percent off, gold 40-45 percent off the highs. So where’s the risk there?
KIYOSAKI: The risk is not having it. And that’s why I’m laughing about Saturday Night Live and I can’t tell Fox from Saturday Night Live because those guys are a bunch of cartoons up there now. And those are the guys you’re going to count on for your economy? Give me a break. I mean, right now I trust in gold and I trust in silver. I don’t trust the stock market. I don’t trust the Fed. I don’t trust our leaders. I don’t trust the EU to not come apart. You have Puerto Rico in serious trouble. I mean how many other things have you got out there? And you look at the national debt- it’s now $20 trillion. If you want to believe Saturday Night Live characters then you just keep believing. But I’d rather have gold and silver.

The author of the recently-released Second Chance: for Your Money, Your Life and Our World also informed listeners he got out of stocks “fully” last March.

Last week, I spotted a piece about Kiyosaki on MarketWatch.com. Barbara Kollmeyer reported on March 23:

Fourteen years ago, the author of a series of popular personal-finance books predicted that 2016 would bring about the worst market crash in history, damaging the financial dreams of millions of baby boomers just as they started to depend on that money to fund retirement.

Broader U.S. stock markets are recovering from the worst 10-day start to a year on record. But Robert Kiyosaki- who made that 2016 forecast in the 2002 book “Rich Dad’s Prophecy” – says the meltdown is under way, and there’s little investors can do but buy gold or silver and hope the Federal Reserve slows the slide.

Kiyosaki is convinced: The pullback he predicted is happening.

“We’re right on schedule,” he said in a recent interview with MarketWatch…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Kollmeyer added later:

Kiyosaki told MarketWatch that the combination of demographics and global economic weakness makes the next crash inevitable — but the Fed could stave it off with another round of quantitative easing, which might stimulate the economy…

“The big question [whether] we do ‘QE4,’” said Kiyosaki. “If we do, the stock market will come roaring back, but it’s not rocket science. If we stop printing money, it crashes; if we print money, it goes up. But, eventually, it’s all going to come down.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

To combat the crash, Kiyoski still places his trust in gold and silver, among other things. From the piece:

He thinks investors should own some gold or silver, based on the view that central banks will just have to print money to get out of the next crisis and precious metals are often deployed as a perceived hedge against inflation. Some investors, meanwhile, might look for investments geared toward income, such as rent payments or dividends, rather than appreciation.

“If you know what you’re doing and are investing for cash flow, baby boomers — or any investors — may see some gains,” he said. “But for those whose wealth is tied up in the [equity] markets, it’s more like gambling than investing.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

An excellent interview of Kiyosaki by MarketWatch, which you can read in its entirety over on their website here.

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. 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 contained herein.)

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Peter Schiff: ‘Economy May Be Entering A Period Of Stagflation’

“I think now you’re going to see big increases in consumer prices. Remember the stagflation of the 1970s. Except this is going to have a lot more stagnation and a lot more inflation. And unlike what Ronald Reagan did at the end of that decade to put out that fire, nothing like that is going to happen this time because we can’t do it. We don’t have the tools. We can’t raise interest rates to fight inflation no matter how high inflation rises because that’s how broke we are. The only things keeping our institutions afloat, including the federal government, is artificially-low interest rates. And the more debt we have, the more important those low interest rates are to maintain the illusion of solvency. So, inflation is going to keep on going up and that is going to cause a flight from the dollar…”

-Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, in a February 5, 2016, entry on The Schiff Report vlog on YouTube.com

“Stagflation.” The word sends a shiver down my spine. And while Peter Schiff’s mention of it earlier this month caught my attention, alarm bells were sounding when the “crash prophet” talked more about stagflation in his Euro Pacific Capital weekly commentary that was just released Monday. From that piece:

Many were largely caught off guard by the arrival last Friday (February 19th) of new inflation data from the Labor Department that showed that the core consumer price index (CPI) rose in January at a 2.2 % annualized rate, the highest in more than 4 years, well past the 2.0% benchmark that the Fed has supposedly been so desperately trying to reach. It was received as welcome news…

In the past I argued that even a tiny, symbolic, quarter point increase would be sufficient to prick the enormous bubble that eight years of stimulus had inflated. Early results show that I was likely right on that point. The truth is that the economy may be entering a period of “stagflation” in which very low (or even negative) growth is accompanied by rising prices. This creates terrible conditions for consumers whereby prices rise but incomes don’t. This leads to diminished living standards.

The recent uptick in inflation does not somehow invalidate all the other signs that have pointed to a rapidly decelerating economy. Just because inflation picks up does not mean that things are getting better. It actually means they are about to get a whole lot worse. Stagflation is in fact THE nightmare scenario for the Fed. If inflation catches fire now, the Fed will be completely incapable of controlling it. If a measly 25 basis point increase could inflict the kind of damage already experienced, imagine what would happen if the Fed made a real attempt to raise rates to get out in front of rising inflation? With growth already close to zero, a monetary shock of 1% or 2% rates could send us into a recession that could end up putting Donald Trump into the White House. The Fed would prefer that fantasy never become reality…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, went on to predict a dollar collapse, accelerating consumer price increases, and the U.S. Treasury bubble bursting with this scenario. A grim outlook, which you can read in its entirety on the Euro Pacific Capital website here.

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

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; 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. 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 contained herein.)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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