Investment strategist Michael Mauboussin explains how investors could generate more accurate valuations and improve their investment decision making by avoiding common behavioral pitfalls.
Central bankers in the US have long fixated on the equilibrium real interest rate (ERIR) as their lodestar, an obsession that GMO’s James Montier, in The Idolatry of Interest Rates, bemoans as “a massive exercise in navel gazing.” According to Montier, the broad acceptance of the theoretically dubious ERIR — the real interest rate consistent with full employment of labor and capital resources—is not an example of the wisdom of crowds, but rather “groupthink extraordinaire.” Further, investors’ collective preoccupation with interest rates as an economic “cure-all” and their “deification of central bankers” are equally misguided, says Montier.
The economic backdrop figures prominently in the chatter among investment strategists of late as they debate the sustainability of the “decoupling” of the US economy from sluggishness in the rest of the world. Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists have called the decoupling trade — long US stocks and the dollar — “the most crowded trade in the world.” As US stocks hover near all-time highs, those with a contrarian bent may be receptive to the latest missive from Joe Calhoun. In "Is It Time to Zig?" he suggests investors might want to look outside of the United States for opportunities.
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