Profit margins have remained elevated in the U.S. for a decade, and in a new white paper, GMO’s James Montier examines why that has been the case, ultimately finding the culprit in fiscal deficits.
As one of us points out relentlessly, risk isn’t a number, rather it is a notion or a concept.
If there was a word of the year for 2021, it would be transitory. Ever since the Fed declared that inflation would be transitory in March 2021, analysts have challenged that assertion and, indeed, have questioned the definition of transitory. Inflation has broad ramification for financial plans, since it affects interest rates, the price of assets and whether cash flows will be sufficient to keep pace with rising prices of goods and services. Here to discuss that question is James Montier, the co-author of two recent commentaries on the likelihood of transitory inflation and how investors should protect against various outcomes.
We have a relatively sanguine view on the likelihood of inflation becoming ingrained in the system (much as it pains us to agree with the Fed). However, the dark arts of macroeconomics are notoriously tricky, and we have often talked of the need to build robust (as opposed to optimal) portfolios – effectively, portfolios that can withstand multiple outcomes.
Inflation is often a poorly understood concept, with monotheistic explanations abounding.
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.