Sunday, August 10, 2008


The Economist looks at valuation and returns on asset classes in the long-run.
This is roughly how GMO goes about the process: it looks at the relationship between valuations and long-term returns. The return from equities, for example, is equal to the existing dividend yield, plus future dividend growth, plus or minus changes in valuations. Ten years ago, the dividend yield on the American market was low while valuations were high. The likely long-term return looked low, and so it has proved.

Using similar reasoning, GMO has a very gloomy outlook for the American and British housing markets at the moment. By using the ratio of the median house price to the median family income, GMO reckons that prices in America need to fall by 17% instantly or stay flat for four years to return value. In Britain, prices need to fall by 38% or stay flat for seven years. And of course, there is no guarantee they will stay at fair value; in the mid-1990s, they dropped well below it.

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