Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reading Grantham's "Stop the Presses!"

Always worth spending the time by reading the latest thoughts by Jeremy Grantham. Couple of quotes here:
The real trap here, and a very old one at that, is to be seduced into buying equities because cash is so painful. Equity markets almost always peak when rates are low, so moving in desperation away from low rates into substantially overpriced equities always ends badly.

And, if the market surprises me and goes into an early setback in 2010, then quality stocks should outperform by a lot. What could cause an early setback would be some random bunching up of unpleasant seven-lean-years data: two or three bad news items in a week or two might do the trick.

Let’s start with the Investment Industry component. It is so obvious in this business that it’s a zero sum game. We collectively add nothing but costs. We produce no widgets; we merely shuffle the existing value of all stocks and all bonds in a cosmic poker game. At the end of each year, the investment community is behind the markets in total by about 1% costs and individuals by 2%.

This is true with the whole financial system. Let us say that by 1965 – the middle of one of the best decades in U.S. history – we had perfectly adequate financial services. Of course, adequate tools are vital. That is not the issue here. We’re debating the razzmatazz of the last 10 to 15 years. Finance was 3% of GDP in 1965; now it is 7.5%. This is an extra 4.5% load that the real economy carries. The financial system is overfeeding on and slowing down the real economy. It is like running with a large, heavy, and growing bloodsucker on your back. It slows you down.

And here is the glutton's link to the debate on financial innovation!

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