Grantham Sets the Record Straight

In a recent Barron’s article, Boston-based asset management firm GMO’s co-founder Jeremy Grantham sets the record straight after what he calls “a few misquotes and misunderstandings by journalists.”

The journalists, writes Grantham, implied that he believes high share prices are here to stay and that “regression to the mean has ended. This is, of course,” he asserts, “inaccurate, as readers of my quarterly letters know.”

Grantham emphasizes his belief that the speed of mean regression has abated and become “sticky.” The slowdown, he explains, has occurred because “nearly all of the factors causing it are themselves unlikely to change fast. These include Fed policy including moral hazard, lower interest rates, an aging population, slower growth and productivity, and increased political and monopoly power for corporations.”

He reminds his readers that there will always be bear markets, and that “in two or three years this cycle is likely to die of old age (or lack of labor) and go into a recession.” Grantham argues, however, that even after a severe bear market, the market will probably recover to the “new normal” P/E ratio of 23.

On the possibility of a bubble situation, Grantham (who emphasizes that the views expressed are his own, not necessarily those of GMO) says the current market “lacks most of the behavioral indicators of a true bubble.”