fixed-income investments

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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Robert Shiller On Stocks: ‘I Can Imagine That It Might Go Up From Here, For A While, Even Though It’s At A High Level’

Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller was on CNBC this morning taking about the “Trump Rally” in stocks. The Nobel Prize winner, who correctly-called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade, was asked if he thought U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is good for stocks. He replied:

Probably in the short run… I’m tempted to be optimistic, for the short run…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

On the possibility that equities might be at the end of a cycle, Dr. Shiller responded:

I’m certainly not saying we’re there now. In fact, it’s the other way around. I’m thinking, the market does look high. I think, maybe I wouldn’t go overall in a big way into the market. But going into under-priced, lower-priced sectors at this point- it still looks okay. It’s still going to give you a better return than investing in fixed incomes.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The “crash prophet” was also asked if he was at the point of raising a “red flag” on the stock market rally. Shiller told viewers:

I can imagine that it might go up from here, for a while, even though it’s at a high level.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Shiller: It’s not a good time, but I’m not saying panic”
CNBC Video

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. 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.)

Latest edition of the Dr. Shiller classic…

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Thursday, December 8th, 2016 Crash Prophets, Government, Investing, Stocks No Comments

Warren Buffett Still Bullish On America, But Not The Dollar

On Wednesday, April 20, I revisited one of my original “crash prophets,” Warren Buffett, to see what the “Oracle of Omaha” thought might be in store for the U.S. economy down the road. In the latest Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Shareholder Letter that was released on February 26, Buffett, its chairman and CEO, stated that, “America’s best days lie ahead.” However, the third richest person in the world (2011 Forbes list) didn’t share that bullish outlook for the U.S. dollar. From that April post:

The Motley Fool’s Rich Smith wrote on the MSNBC website on March 28:

Let the word go forth: On Friday, March 25, 2011, Warren Buffett predicted the decline of the U.S. dollar.

In a speech given in New Delhi (where he’s hunting up some cheap Indian stocks), the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway warned investors to avoid “long-term fixed-dollar investments” such as 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds. Buffett worries that the $2.3 trillion in new money our government has pumped into the economy, when combined with interest rates so low they’re practically giving money away, are combining to dilute the value of the dollar.

As a result, Buffett warns: “If you ask me if the U.S. Dollar is going to hold its purchasing power fully at the level of 2011, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years from now, I would tell you it will not.”

What’s more, he’s matching actions to words. Over the last couple of years, Buffett has been selling off longer-dated bond holdings, shifting assets into cash and shorter-dated paper. Berkshire’s holdings of debt dated longer than 10 years dropped 31% over the past 18 months, while Berkshire’s cash holdings leapt 56%.

This weekend, the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting took place in Omaha, and Warren Buffett shared his forecasts for the United States and its currency with attendees. Reuters’ Ben Berkowitz wrote yesterday:

Tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders who descended on Omaha this weekend for the conglomerate’s annual meeting got one unmistakable message from Buffett — no matter how bad the economy, or the deficit, or the political divide, the United States is as good a place to live and work as ever.

“I don’t see how anybody can be other than enthused about this country,” Buffett told Berkshire (BRKa.N) shareholders on Saturday…

The comments echo those Buffett made in February in his annual shareholder letter, but the words still may encourage investors looking sideways at the country, particularly after Standard & Poor’s put the U.S. government’s critical “AAA” credit rating on a negative credit watch.

Buffett told Reuters Insider that S&P’s move was premature, given the U.S. government issues debt only in dollars and can simply print more money to pay debt if absolutely needed.

“The United States is not going to default on any obligation,” Buffett told Insider in an interview after the annual meeting. “We are not a credit risk, believe me.”

Furthermore, “The World’s Greatest Investor” isn’t worried about another banking crisis anytime soon. Berkowitz added:

Buffett also affirmed his support for the banking sector, where he has big bets on Wells Fargo (WFC.N) and U.S. Bancorp (USB.N), calling the odds of another banking crisis “very very low.”

However, Buffett is still wary of the greenback. From the piece:

Where Buffett’s enthusiasm wanes to any degree, it is mostly in conversation on the dollar, which he said is sure to weaken over time, like most other currencies.

Buffett, as usual, said he was shying away from fixed-income investments for Berkshire’s part, even as he keeps some of his personal wealth in Treasuries for safety’s sake.

Source:

Berkowitz, Ben. “UPDATE 1-Buffett remains solid on the American economy.” Reuters. 1 May. 2011. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/01/buffett-economy-idUSN0113337320110501). 2 May. 2011.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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