- Jeremy Grantham said the stock-market bubble would likely deflate before May.
- The GMO cofounder also criticized SPACs and cheered electric vehicles.
- Here are Grantham’s 16 best quotes from his “Invest Like the Best” interview.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Retail investors piling into stocks have fueled a historic bubble that will probably burst before May, the veteran investor Jeremy Grantham said on the “Invest Like the Best” podcast this week.
The GMO cofounder and chief investment strategist also discussed how the bubble would deflate, slammed SPACs, shared some of the insults he’d received for criticizing bitcoin, and predicted that electric vehicles would revolutionize the auto industry.
Here are Grantham’s 16 best quotes from the interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. “This bubble is more impressive even than 2000, which was the champion. About 80% of the value measures have this one higher. We’ll be rather lucky to have this bubble last until May.”
2. “When the financial headlines migrate to the front page, when the evening news mentions the market or some crazy behavior of GameStop, Tesla, you know you’re getting very warm.” – outlining some of the signs of a bubble about to burst.
3. “This is not primarily an institutional bubble; this is an individual bubble. The individuals are absolutely crazy. They have expanded their share of the market trading, and they have really entered into the market with great enthusiasm for the first time in decades.”
4. “I have to confess that I find it all exhilarating. I’m only concerned somewhat for the relatively new investors who get drawn into these things and then find out the hard way. I sympathize completely with these people out there enjoying this bubble, but they’ve always ended very badly, and I have no doubt this one will too.”
5. “I’m not optimistic that anyone caught up in this wants to hear my advice and consequently would act on it. When you get into that excitement, mini frenzy, pretty hard to stop you with dry historical stories. ‘That was then, this is now, baby! Get aboard. You don’t understand. You dinosaurs don’t get it.’ Well, the trouble is we do get it, but there is no way I can persuade them. Just tread out the regular story, and one out of a hundred might listen. I will sympathize with them when they’re cleaned out.”
6. “We’re a crazy marketplace full of irrational human beings who behave themselves 80% of the time and then 20% of the time totally freak out one way or the other.”
7. “They don’t want to look foolish with their neighbor, and I concede that seeing your neighbor get rich is about as irritating as anything that life has to offer.” – discussing how retail investors get caught up in speculation.
8. “The market tops out when the last bull has put his last money in. There is a moment of maximum enthusiasm, and the next day there’s plenty of enthusiasm but less than the previous day. So the buying pressure is released a little bit, like the famous water jets under the ping-pong balls. You turn the faucet down a little bit and the ball is still way up in the air, but it’s just dropped a couple of inches. It’s that process of slowly lowering the pressure, and the overpriced ping-pong ball slowly descends until it hits the proper level.”
9. “Rapidly rising hostility to bears is a very good, very late signal that the bubble is way advanced. I gave my fairly bland opinion about bitcoin, just that it was faith-based, there’s nothing new or shocking about that. But armies of individual fanatics descended on the comments. There was no insult that was not good enough for me, not just senility and old age and complete ignorance about bitcoin. I got three insults back about my big ears which I hadn’t had since I was 7 years old.”
10. “SPACs are terribly speculative, undesirable, unnecessary instruments. They’re really a license to rip investors off. It’s a testimonial to the sloppiness and slow-moving nature of the SEC that they haven’t banned these things long ago.”
11. “QuantumScape went from $10 to $130, where it was worth more than General Motors or Panasonic. That compares pretty well in scale with anything around in 1929 or 2000. To have a company that has no earnings or sales for four years, brilliant or not, and to look out that far into the future and make it worth more than General Motors, that’s a pretty good demonstration of something. And it was wonderfully ironic, because by then I’d already been sounding off about the undesirableness of SPACs. And there I am with far and away, for a second or two, my biggest investment ever.” – discussing his 53-fold gain on QuantumScape after a SPAC acquired the solid-state-battery company.
12. “I don’t believe the banks are nearly as important as they would love us to believe. They managed to fake the majority of people in ’09 into thinking they were so desperately important that if we didn’t bail them all out, if we let a single banker go out of business, we’d be deep in 1932, in the Great Depression.”
13. “The baby bust is going to be worse than anybody thinks, way off the scale of anything we’ve ever talked about. It’s going to change the world.” – emphasizing the effects of declining birth rates in many of the world’s largest economies.
14. “Electric cars will be cheaper to build. They’re already cheaper to run and cheaper to operate by far, and safer and better to drive. We have killed gasoline and diesel cars.”
15. “We’re compounding the wealth of society much more slowly. If you’re not in the game, just think how terrible it is: You pay twice as much for a house, the stock market is twice the price it used to be, the farm up the road if you’re in the countryside is twice the price it used to be. It’s glorious for the people who own a lot of assets, for old fogies who are selling their assets, that’s terrific. But everybody else, and particularly the young, it’s a pain in the ass.”
16. “For heaven’s sake, do the little that you can do to prepare for the future, which is to have a great infrastructure and a great educational system. Reality is the quality and quantity of your workforce. How motivated, how happy, how well-organized they are, how well-trained they are, and how well-retrained they are, if necessary, plus the quantity and quality of your assets per worker. That’s real life.”