Never before have I seen a market so highly valued in the face of overwhelming uncertainty. Yet today the U.S. stock market stands at nosebleed-inducing levels of multiple, whilst the fundamentals seem more uncertain than ever before. It appears as though the U.S. stock market has drunk from Dr. Pangloss’ Kool-Aid – where everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
While it is, of course, a cliché to say that markets are driven by fear and greed, like many clichés this one contains a strong element of truth. The bad news for us humans is that within our brains, emotion appears to have primacy over cognitive function. While this may well have kept us alive and allowed our species to thrive, this uncomplicated hierarchy doesn’t necessarily work in our favour when it comes to thinking about financial markets.
The conventional 60/40 portfolio of today is not going to generate the kind of returns that investors say they need. Investors must seek to embrace the terrifying concept of being different. As the ghosts of many great investors past have amply demonstrated, being different is the path to investment success. However, such advice falls into the simple but not easy category, to borrow Warren Buffett’s expression.
In a new Viewpoints piece on GMO's website, James Montier examines Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the negative view on it taken by many highly-regarded economists.
In a new white paper on GMO’s website -- “Total Factor Productivity Growth = Totally Fictitious Pretentious Garbage” -- James Montier and Philip Pilkington take aim at the argument that stagnating incomes are to be blamed on poor productivity growth.
Overoptimism and overconfidence are two well-known psychological traits of our species. They are particularly dangerous in the late stages of an economic cycle where these terrible twins result in investors overestimating return and underestimating risk – a potentially lethal combination of errors.
James Montier, a member of GMO’s Asset Allocation team, has just published a new white paper -- "The Advent of a Cynical Bubble” – examining the nature of the bubble we find ourselves in, noting the concept that “the US equity market is obscenely overvalued can hardly be news to anyone.”
James Montier and Matt Kadnar, members of GMO’s Asset Allocation team, have just published a new white paper -- “The S&P 500: Just Say No” -- warning of the risks to investors throwing in the towel on valuation, diversification and active management in favor of a passive allocation to large-cap U.S. equities.
In a companion paper, “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast,” we present evidence that asset markets are generally priced for “secular stagnation,” and argue that this requires a number of extreme assumptions on the part of investors.
One of the great joys of working at GMO is the freedom to disagree. Indeed, many moons ago when Ben Inker first approached me about joining GMO, he told me that, having read my work, he believed we were very much philosophically aligned.