Grantham Mayo & van Otterloo (GMO) is bullish when it comes to the future of the global economy. In two separate interviews in the past week, co-founder Jeremy Grantham and head of asset allocation Ben Inker both remained positive as they discussed the future.
While speaking to Institutional Investor about historical pandemics, Inker remained practical suggesting that while a global recession due to the coronavirus crisis would not be “weird”, he does not expect the event to be profound enough to cause “massive dilution” to shareholders. “This is the kind of event that, as we saw over the last few weeks in China, can have an extreme short-term impact on economic activity,” he told the site. Adding later, “It doesn’t strike us as likely to really impact the economy’s ability to function once we get beyond the acute throes of trying to deal with the virus.”
Inker explained that GMO remains “excited by equity” with prices being lower. He believes that coming into the coronavirus crisis the market was “awfully expensive” and the asset management firm sees opportunities in value-oriented stocks in emerging and international markets that were cheap in comparison to large-cap U.S. equities.
Grantham had an even longer view in mind when he spoke to Think Advisor on Thursday. He discussed the silver-lining that he sees coming form COVID-19’s benefits to the planet earth and saving it from the ravages of climate change.
When asked about how the coronavirus will affect the global economy, Grantham explained, “The reduction in global GDP goes straight to the bottom line. However, if we knock a couple of points off global GDP, that buys us a year of grace in terms of the long struggle to reduce CO2 emissions.”
Later in the interview, he spoke of other positives to come from the virus: “This is a perfect example that even this ill wind is benefiting something. In this case, it’s [fighting] climate change. If everyone travels less, stays at home and plays it safe for a while, then pollution goes down and traffic deaths go down. More or less everything unpleasant goes down for a while to mitigate the unpleasantness of coronavirus.”
Grantham famously forecast the 1989 bubble in Japan, the tech bubble burst of 2000 and the U.S. housing market bubble of 2007-2008.