UBS just went on the record warning of a potential bursting bubble in equity markets. The bank’s CEO says that global coordinated central bank easing posed a threat to markets and risked inflating a bubble. “I’d be very, very careful about growing further the balance sheet of central banks”, said CEO Sergio Ermotti. He further explained that current market prices were out of sync with investor sentiment, posing a risk. However, he did say that clients were ready to buy the dips in the market, which was an encouraging sign.
FINSUM: The equity markets remind us a bit of US politics at the moment. There are a lot of people in the middle without a lot of conviction, but those on the sharper ends are driving the whole thing forward.
Barron’s has published an interesting article which argues that there are ten asset bubbles waiting to pop in markets. According to an analyst cited in the publication, further coordinated global central bank easing is likely to exacerbate these bubbles and turn a “run-of-the-mill recession into a full blown financial crisis”. The ten asset bubbles cited are in the following asset classes: US government debt, US corporate debt, US leveraged loans, European debt, Bank of Japan Balance sheet and related equity holdings, unprofitable IPOs, crypto and cannabis, growth and momentum stocks, software and cloud stocks, ETFs (especially fixed income).
FINSUM: So the whole world is in a bubble except the asset class that most people pay the most attention to—US stocks. The thing about many of these “bubbles” is that the economy is still plenty healthy to cover them (such as companies’ ability to cover interest etc).
Many investors may not be aware of it, but those with assets in the sector could be sorry. Alcohol stocks, and specifically bourbon shares, are in a bubble. Tech has stolen all the limelight, but whiskey stocks—one of America’s oldest industries—have had a great decade. Millennials have revived American whiskey makers, such as Brown-Forman and MGP Ingredients, the latter of which’s shares have jumped from $6 in 2014 to $98 in 2018! P/E ratios are at about 30x and the stocks have recently started to fall sharply. It looks like the bubble is bursting.
FINSUM: The performance of this sector is pretty amazing—doubled revenues in the last decade. That is outstanding for such an old industry. However, valuations seemed to have significantly outpaced realistic value.
One of the most respected hedge fund managers, Jeremy Grantham, believes that this is a false rebound. And not only is it a false rebound, rather, it is the beginning of a big bubble bursting. The head of GMO believes as far as the fourth quarter is concerned, “The volatility is consistent with a bubble bursting”. Though he does caution that stocks could reflate before the burst continues, as they did in 1998-2000. Grantham is famous for his calls of the 2000 and 2008 downturns, but has been criticized for being overly bearish during this bull market.
FINSUM: We do not think there is going to be a further meltdown. Valuations reached their nadir at a 13.6 p/e ratio last month, down from eye popping numbers. Between earnings gains and price declines, we think the worst may be behind stocks for now.
Barron’s ran an interesting article today chronicling the market views of famed investor Leon Cooperman. The legendary hedge fund manager argues that investors should stay away from bonds, but that stocks are “fundamentally cheap”. “My world is cash and stocks … I think bonds are the bubble”, says Cooperman. He argues that a big downturn in stocks is not in the cards because the economy “if anything, is too strong”.
FINSUM: This argument makes sense, bonds do seem overvalued. However, what if stocks and bonds are too pricey? That seems logical too.