A great piece written by Jeremy Grantham on the upcoming Massive Bubble that has been fueled further by decade long zero or negative interest rates all around the world along with the massive money printing episodes that Central Banks have been doing before, during and even now, after Covid-19. A must read and worthwhile reminder for us that the upcoming Bubble is coming, and we must all be prepared for the great downturn, including all the big collapses in wealth but also all the opportunities that come along with it.
The Hazards of Asset Allocation in a Late-stage Major Bubble
The long, long bull market since 2009 has finally matured into a fully-fledged epic bubble. Featuring extreme overvaluation, explosive price increases, frenzied issuance, and hysterically speculative investor behavior, I believe this event will be recorded as one of the great bubbles of financial history, right along with the South Sea bubble, 1929, and 2000.
…this bubble will burst in due time, no matter how hard the Fed tries to support it, with consequent damaging effects on the economy and on portfolios. Make no mistake – for the majority of investors today, this could very well be the most important event of your investing lives.
My best guess as to the longest this bubble might survive is the late spring or early summer, coinciding with the broad rollout of the COVID vaccine. At that moment, the most pressing issue facing the world economy will have been solved. Market participants will breathe a sigh of relief, look around, and immediately realize that the economy is still in poor shape, stimulus will shortly be cut back with the end of the COVID crisis, and valuations are absurd. Buy the rumour, sell the news. But remember that timing the bursting of bubbles has a long history of disappointment.
“Buy the rumor, sell the news.”Jeremy Grantham, 2021
Even with hindsight, it is seldom easy to point to the pin that burst the bubble. The main reason for this lack of clarity is that the great bull markets did notbreak when they were presented with a major unexpected negative. Those events, like the portfolio insurance fiasco of 1987, tend to give sharp down legs and quick recoveries. They are in the larger scheme of things unique and technical and are not part of the ebb and flow of the great bubbles. The great bull markets typically turn down when the market conditions are very favorable, just subtly less favorable than they were yesterday. And that is why they are always missed.
What to Do?
As often happens at bubbly peaks like 1929, 2000, and the Nifty Fifty of 1972 (a second-tier bubble in the company of champions), today’s market features extreme disparities in value by asset class, sector, and company. Those at the very cheap end include traditional value stocks all over the world, relative to growth stocks. Value stocks have had their worst-ever relative decade ending December 2019, followed by the worst-ever year in 2020, with spreads between Growth and Value performance averaging between 20 and 30 percentage points for the single year!
Similarly, Emerging Market equities are at 1 of their 3, more or less co-equal, relative lows against the U.S. of the last 50 years. Not surprisingly, we believe it is in the overlap of these two ideas, Value and Emerging, that your relative bets should go, along with the greatest avoidance of U.S. Growth stocks that your career and business risk will allow.