Grantham Talks Valuations, Bubbles

Jeremy Grantham says the U.S. stock market is now “thoroughly expensive” — except for one subset of the market — and also says he sees more bubbles forming in various parts of the globe.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Grantham says stocks have moved from being very cheap to being expensive in the U.S., with the exception of big, well-known blue chip franchises like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Grantham says the rally has been driven by Federal Reserve policy that has encouraged speculation, and he says that during speculative times such solid, steady blue chips don’t excel. But he thinks we’re in for several years of slow growth, and says those are the types of companies that will fare well in such an environment.

Grantham also offers some thoughts on asset bubbles. His firm, GMO, has recently completed a study of bubbles, finding 34 throughout history. Of those 34 — which include the recent U.S. housing and Internet bubbles — all but two came all the way back down to their previous trendline after popping, he says. The two others: bubbles in the U.K. and Australian housing markets that are still ongoing, and were protected by floating mortgage rates. And Grantham is skeptical that those won’t eventually pop.

Grantham also says he sees potential bubbles in commodities and emerging market stocks. And, as usual, he has some harsh words for Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. “There’s nothing more dangerous and damaging to an economy than a great asset bubble that breaks,” he says, “and this is something that the Fed never seems to get.”

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