Jeremy Grantham, GMO co-founder and chief investment strategist, is more bullish on the global economy, and particularly for the Americas, than most.
Writing in the recent GMO quarterly news letter, Grantham, a member of the asset allocation team for GMO, a Boston-based private investment management partnership that manages $101 billion in investments, is particularly optimistic about the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. and global economies are likely to do significantly better this year than recent opinions predict, and the U.S. in particular has plenty of spare capacity to grow above its longer-term limits, Grantham says. The biggest risk would be China’s GDP becoming much more disappointing. China’s slipping economy already has had a detrimental effect on the world economy and has been blamed for much of the volatility that has rocked the markets in recent months.
However, there is no big crash foreseen for the markets, Grantham says. “The U.S. and global markets do not look like they are in bubble territory. They can always suffer a regular bear market (and are almost in one now). But I still believe we will have to wait longer for the BIG ONE and that global equity markets will regroup once more.”
The current low prices for commodities such as oil and grains will not last. “Resource prices will inevitably rise and as they do they will reduce, once again, the growth rates of the global economy,” Grantham says.
The U.S. has some natural advantages that help keep its economy strong and in a better situation than economies in other countries. For example, American investors take more risk and account for more than half of the venture capital in the world, according to the newsletter. In addition, the U.S. and Canada have the capacity to feed themselves and many more people if needed, and have plenty of water and land resources.
“Looking to 2016, we can agree that uncertainties are above average. But I think the global economy, and the U.S. in particular, will do better than the bears believe it will because they appear to underestimate the slow-burning but huge positive of much-reduced resource prices in the U.S. and the availability of capacity both in labor and machinery,” Grantham says.
“So even though I believe our trend line growth capability is only 1.5 percent, our spare capacity and lower input prices make 2.5 percent quite attainable for this year. And growth at this level would make a major market break unlikely," he says. “This situation feels, at worst, like an ordinary bear market lasting a few months and not like a major collapse. That, I think, will come later after the final ingredients of a major bubble fall into place.”