Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jeremy Grantham's Quarterly Newsletter April 2012 Summary

Jeremy Grantham, GMO, has just released its Quarterly Newsletter entitled "My Sister’s Pension Assets and Agency Problems (The Tension between Protecting Your Job or Your Clients’ Money)".

In this newsletter, he focus on how career risk for people working in the investment business affects the markets. The first priority for professional investors is to keep their job, and for that reason they usually go with the flow to avoid being wrong on their own and be able to use the all convenient "nobody saw it coming".  Career risk (which I discovered thanks to Jeremy Grantham) is what made me realize that as an individual investor, you could beat the market over the long term, as long as you are disciplined and patient.

Here are the key points brought forward by Jeremy Grantham:
  • Career risk is a main cause of volatility: two-thirds of the time annual GDP growth and annual change in the fair value of the market is within plus or minus a tiny 1% of its long-term trend, whereas the market’s actual price is within plus or minus 19% two-thirds of the time.
  • Ignoring long term trends may be the correct response on the part of most market players, for ignoring the volatile up-and-down market moves and attempting to focus on the slower
    burning long-term reality is simply too dangerous in career terms.
  • The quote “The market can stay irrational longer than the investor can stay solvent.”  can be expressed as “The market can stay irrational longer than the client can stay patient.”  for investment companies. GMO found that clients patience time has been around 3 years on average in normal conditions.
  • 3 conditions must be met to bet against market irrationality:
    • Allow a “margin of safety” and wait for a real outlier before you make a big bet
    • Stay reasonably diversified
    • Never use leverage
He admits that his sister portfolio (managed by himself) did better than his clients' portfolio, mainly because he has only had to consider absolute return without the investment constraints some investors impose and felt absolutely no career risk.

GMO tries to find the right balance between short term client expectations and long term prospects, but this is challenging as it appears they lost 40% of their clients when they stayed out of the 1999/2000 stock market bubble. But as they were proven right as time passed by, the company  eventually "attracted a flood of new business" in 2003 to 2006.

Before the 2008 crash, his sister portfolio had virtually 0% allocation in stocks, but GMO clients still had about 45%, again because of business risk. 

GMO now offers a "Benchmark-Free Allocation Strategy" which allowed great return during last decade and reflects little career or business risk. The strategy intended to protect capital first and yet still make good money by taking into account historical trends and valuations.

The second part of the newsletter "Force Fed" written by Ben Inker provides GMO's investment outlook and explains how the Federal reverse market manipulation makes it to invest.

Here are the key points I noted:
  • The Fed has engineered a situation in which the really unattractive asset classes are the ones we have always thought of as low risk: government bonds and cash. (etfideas: That's actually the main reason why I hate the fed)
  • Stocks are expensive relative to GMO estimate of long-term fair value, but so are bonds and cash.
  • Australian and New Zealand government bonds are the only bonds (unenthusiastically) liked by GMO because of decent real yield and government spending policies that are sustainable in the
    long run.
You can read the complete newsletter for free on GMO website.

No comments:

Post a Comment