Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Grantham: ‘No market for young men’"

From MarketWatch:
Market veteran blasts income inequality, buys blue-chip stocks
 Hey, Young Turks on trading desks, up-and-coming money managers and Wall Street stock jockeys: You want the truth about the global markets today?

Listen to Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Boston-based investment manager GMO LLC: You can’t handle the truth. 

“This is no market for young men,” Grantham said. “At least us old men remember what a real bear market is like, and the young men haven’t got a clue.” 

Women, too, for that matter. And at 72, after 40-plus years in the investment business, Grantham can make this claim unchallenged, but his point is more about the lessons of experience than the limitations of age, and an investor’s ability to build on the former and overcome the latter. 

With Greece on the verge of default, and economic growth in even the healthiest developed markets stuck in slow gear, Grantham reserves his harshest words for the leaders of central banks, big money-center banks and governments. The fittest global companies, meanwhile, are getting his firm’s client’s money. 

Policymakers and politicians have acted like “children at play,” Grantham has said. As he sees it, they’ve created a tower of debt and an illusion of wealth, and have not been held responsible for their frivolous actions. 

“No one has been prepared to make tough decisions,” Grantham said in a recent telephone interview. “Where have the Europeans been for 10 years? None of these things came out of the woodwork two weeks ago. No one attempted to blow the whistle and make tough decisions in a timely fashion.”...MORE 
...So we can look for a bounce but think of these names as a trade; bear markets can suck you in. When I first came to the market, one of the older traders told me he was saved in the '73-'74 bear by a cartoon:
(click to enlarge)
That's Alfred Frueh's January 16, 1932 New Yorker classic, "Just around the Corner", commenting on President Hoover's statement that "Prosperity is just around the corner".
See also: 
In How To Think About The Markets, And Your World I mentioned that I recently re-read Only Yesterday and Since Yesterday. Something that has fascinated me about history is how blind we are in the moment*, only gaining insight after the fact. The headline above is from a Time magazine article dated January 8, 1973, looking back on an above-average year in the markets, 1972.
Here's Time:
THE first definitive year-end report card on the economy—the stock market average on the final day of trading —was cause for solid optimism on the part of investors. Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 1020 —up 130 points for the year, a remarkable gain of 15%....
Here's what actually transpired:
In the 694 days between 11 January 1973 and 6 December 1974, the New York Stock Exchange's Dow Jones Industrial Average benchmark lost over 45% of its value, making it the seventh-worst bear market in the history of the index 1972 had been a good year for the DJIA, with gains of 15% in the twelve months.

1973 had been expected to be even better, with Time magazine reporting, just 3 days before the crash began, that it was 'shaping up as a gilt-edged year'. In the two years from 1972 to 1974, the American economy slowed from 7.2% real GDP growth to -2.1% contraction, while inflation (by CPI) jumped from 3.4% in 1972 to 12.3% in 1974....