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4 of The Best Podcast Episodes for James Montier. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about James Montier, often where they are interviewed.

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4 of The Best Podcast Episodes for James Montier. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about James Montier, often where they are interviewed.

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James Montier on Fear and Investment (Podcast)

Masters in Business
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Bloomberg Opinion columnist Barry Ritholtz speaks with James Montier, who is a member of the asset allocation team at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). Prior to that, he was the co-head of global strategy at Société Générale. Montier is also the author of several market-leading books, including “The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How Not to Be Your Own Worst Enemy.”

Apr 17 2020

59mins

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James Montier: 'How Do I Get Paid for Owning This Asset?'

The Long View
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Our guest on this week's installment of "The Long View" podcast is James Montier. Montier is a member of the asset-allocation team at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. Before joining GMO in 2009, he was co-head of global strategy at Societe Generale. A prolific and incisive writer, Montier has authored several books, including Behavioural Investing: A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Behavioural Finance; Value Investing: Tools and Techniques for Intelligent Investment; and The Little Book of Behavioral Investing. He's also a regular contributor to GMO's library of white papers and research studies on topics ranging from productivity, strategic asset allocation, contrarianism, and more. In addition to his duties at GMO, Montier is also a visiting fellow at the University of Durham and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Background 
Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co.

Behavioural Investing: A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Behavioural Finance by James Montier 

Value Investing: Tools and Techniques for Intelligent Investment by James Montier 

The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How Not to Be Your Own Worst Enemy by James Montier 

GMO's research library

Montier's articles in GMO's research library

Montier's Role at GMO
"My role is essentially to be difficult, and it turns out I'm quite good at that." Montier describes his role at GMO and how his contributions to the firm are measured. (1:10-3:11)

Fostering Debate at GMO
"We have never had a house view." Why debate and constructive devil's advocacy is welcome at GMO. (3:12-4:31)

"Investing is one of those fields where there is almost constant evidence that we are all wrong." How to foster humility and a diversity of views. (4:32-7:38)

Debating Jeremy Grantham on mean reversion: Montier gives an example of an issue the team has debated recently--how long it takes for markets to revert to their long-term averages. (7:39-9:36)

Forecasting and Portfolio Construction
How the debate over mean reversion informs GMO's asset-class forecasts. (9:37-10:09)

Corporate concentration and low interest rates: How GMO is reconsidering these variables and their impact on the asset-class forecasts it makes. (10:10-11:38)

"The Idolatry of Interest Rates, Part II: Financial Heresy and Potential Utility in an ERP Framework" by James Montier and Ben Inker (Aug. 11, 2015)

How GMO incorporates its asset-class forecasts into the multi-asset strategies it manages. (11:39-12:37)

  • GMO Benchmark-Free Allocation III GBMFX  

The appeal of a "robust" forecast that's meant to help portfolios withstand various potential outcomes. (12:38-14:15)

"Our portfolios look a little freakish." Montier explains why GMO is U.S.-stock-phobic and, conversely, why the firm is finding value in alternatives. (14:16-18:04)

Career risk: Where individual investors hold an edge over institutions. (18:05-18:55)

Alternatives
Montier defines "alternatives." Different ways of owning standard risks--depression risk, inflation risk, and liquidity. (18:56-21:49)

Montier presents two examples of alternative strategies that GMO employs--merger arbitrage and put-selling--to own standard risks in different ways. (21:50-25:49) 

"We should size them such that they cannot hurt the overall fund should we get something wrong." How GMO sizes its positions in alternative strategies. (25:50-27:33) 

Alpha, beta, and decay: How GMO assesses an alternative strategy's vulnerability to being arbitraged away. (27:34-29:57)

GMO's Bearish U.S. Equity Forecast
"How do I get paid for owning this asset?" Key inputs to GMO's U.S. equity forecast--multiple, margin, yield, and growth. (29:58-32:08)

"A behavioral self-defense mechanism." How GMO's approach to forecasting helps to structure its thinking and anchors decision-making. (32:09-34:54)

"It's really valuation where we've been most wrong." Where GMO's U.S. equity forecast erred in recent years. (34:55-36:01)

"We have to wear that. We have to own it." Montier on steps that GMO has taken to introspect on its forecasting error and how that expresses itself in the way it makes decisions and manages money. (36:02-39:45)

Planning Amid a Dearth of Value
"A reach for yield in any way, shape, or form." Explaining the dearth of value. (39:46-41:43)

"We have always been pretty bad at (forecasting), and it's unlikely we're going to get a lot better." (41:44-44:37)

How should investors and advisors forecast asset-class returns and plan for the future? (44:38-47:25)

Capital Allocation
Montier on the folly of firms borrowing to repurchase shares: "The more stable the environment, the easier it is to take on leverage, but the greater the danger that taking leverage creates further down the line when you get some random shock." (47:26-50:49)

Jul 10 2019

53mins

Play

James Montier: 'How Do I Get Paid for Owning This Asset?'

The Long View
Episode artwork
Read more

Our guest on this week's installment of "The Long View" podcast is James Montier. Montier is a member of the asset-allocation team at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. Before joining GMO in 2009, he was co-head of global strategy at Societe Generale. A prolific and incisive writer, Montier has authored several books, including Behavioural Investing: A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Behavioural Finance; Value Investing: Tools and Techniques for Intelligent Investment; and The Little Book of Behavioral Investing. He's also a regular contributor to GMO's library of white papers and research studies on topics ranging from productivity, strategic asset allocation, contrarianism, and more. In addition to his duties at GMO, Montier is also a visiting fellow at the University of Durham and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Background 
Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co.

Behavioural Investing: A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Behavioural Finance by James Montier 

Value Investing: Tools and Techniques for Intelligent Investment by James Montier 

The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How Not to Be Your Own Worst Enemy by James Montier 

GMO's research library

Montier's articles in GMO's research library

Montier's Role at GMO
"My role is essentially to be difficult, and it turns out I'm quite good at that." Montier describes his role at GMO and how his contributions to the firm are measured. (1:10-3:11)

Fostering Debate at GMO
"We have never had a house view." Why debate and constructive devil's advocacy is welcome at GMO. (3:12-4:31)

"Investing is one of those fields where there is almost constant evidence that we are all wrong." How to foster humility and a diversity of views. (4:32-7:38)

Debating Jeremy Grantham on mean reversion: Montier gives an example of an issue the team has debated recently--how long it takes for markets to revert to their long-term averages. (7:39-9:36)

Forecasting and Portfolio Construction
How the debate over mean reversion informs GMO's asset-class forecasts. (9:37-10:09)

Corporate concentration and low interest rates: How GMO is reconsidering these variables and their impact on the asset-class forecasts it makes. (10:10-11:38)

"The Idolatry of Interest Rates, Part II: Financial Heresy and Potential Utility in an ERP Framework" by James Montier and Ben Inker (Aug. 11, 2015)

How GMO incorporates its asset-class forecasts into the multi-asset strategies it manages. (11:39-12:37)

  • GMO Benchmark-Free Allocation III GBMFX  

The appeal of a "robust" forecast that's meant to help portfolios withstand various potential outcomes. (12:38-14:15)

"Our portfolios look a little freakish." Montier explains why GMO is U.S.-stock-phobic and, conversely, why the firm is finding value in alternatives. (14:16-18:04)

Career risk: Where individual investors hold an edge over institutions. (18:05-18:55)

Alternatives
Montier defines "alternatives." Different ways of owning standard risks--depression risk, inflation risk, and liquidity. (18:56-21:49)

Montier presents two examples of alternative strategies that GMO employs--merger arbitrage and put-selling--to own standard risks in different ways. (21:50-25:49) 

"We should size them such that they cannot hurt the overall fund should we get something wrong." How GMO sizes its positions in alternative strategies. (25:50-27:33) 

Alpha, beta, and decay: How GMO assesses an alternative strategy's vulnerability to being arbitraged away. (27:34-29:57)

GMO's Bearish U.S. Equity Forecast
"How do I get paid for owning this asset?" Key inputs to GMO's U.S. equity forecast--multiple, margin, yield, and growth. (29:58-32:08)

"A behavioral self-defense mechanism." How GMO's approach to forecasting helps to structure its thinking and anchors decision-making. (32:09-34:54)

"It's really valuation where we've been most wrong." Where GMO's U.S. equity forecast erred in recent years. (34:55-36:01)

"We have to wear that. We have to own it." Montier on steps that GMO has taken to introspect on its forecasting error and how that expresses itself in the way it makes decisions and manages money. (36:02-39:45)

Planning Amid a Dearth of Value
"A reach for yield in any way, shape, or form." Explaining the dearth of value. (39:46-41:43)

"We have always been pretty bad at (forecasting), and it's unlikely we're going to get a lot better." (41:44-44:37)

How should investors and advisors forecast asset-class returns and plan for the future? (44:38-47:25)

Capital Allocation
Montier on the folly of firms borrowing to repurchase shares: "The more stable the environment, the easier it is to take on leverage, but the greater the danger that taking leverage creates further down the line when you get some random shock." (47:26-50:49)

Jul 10 2019

53mins

Play

#107 - James Montier - “There Really Is A Serious Challenge to Try to Put Together an Investment Portfolio That’s Going to Generate Half-Decent Returns On A Forward-Looking Basis"

The Meb Faber Show
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In Episode 107 we welcome the great James Montier. The chat starts on the topic of James’ questionable sartorial choices. He tells us he’s “always been a fan of dressing badly.” But the guys quickly jump in with Meb noting how James has generally been seeing the world as expensive over the last few years. Has anything changed today?

James tells us no; by in large, we’re still trapped in this world where, frankly, you’re reduced to this game of “picking the tallest dwarf.” In general, every asset is expensive compared to normal. He summarizes, telling us “there really is a serious challenge to try to put together an investment portfolio that’s going to generate half-decent returns on a forward-looking basis.”

Meb digs into, focusing on James’ framework for thinking about valuation, specifically, as a process.

James starts from accounting identities. There are essentially four ways you get paid for owning an equity: a change in valuation, a change in profitability, some growth, and some yield.  James fleshes out the details for us, discussing time-horizons of these identities. One of the takeaways is that we’re looking at pretty miserable returns for U.S. equities.

James notes that we now have the second highest CAPE reading ever. Or you could look at the median price of the average stock – the price-to-sales ratio has never been higher. Overall, the point is to look at many valuation metrics and triangulate, so to speak. When you do, they’re all pretty much saying the same thing. James finishes by telling us that from his perspective, U.S. equities appear obscenely expensive. 

Meb takes the counter position, asking if there’s any good argument for this elevated market. Is there any explanation that would justify the high values and continued investment?

James spends much time performing this exact exercise, looking for holes. He tells us that most people point toward “low interest rates” as a reason why this valuation is justified. But James takes issue with this. From a dividend discount model perspective, James doesn’t think the discount rate and the growth rate are independent. He suggests growth will be lower along with lower rates. He goes on to discuss various permutations of PE and other models, noting that there’s no historical relationship between the Shiller PE and interest rates.

Meb comments how so many famous investors echo “low rates allow valuations to be high.” But this wasn’t the case in Japan. Meb then steers the conversation toward advisors who agree that U.S. stocks are expensive yet remain invested. Why?

What follows is a great discussion about what James calls the “Cynical Bubble.” People know they shouldn’t be investing because U.S. stocks are expensive, but investors feel they must invest. If you believe you can stay in this market and sell out before it turns, you’re playing the greater fool game. James tells us about a game involving expectations – it’s a fun part of the show you’ll want to listen to, with the takeaway being how hard it is to be one step ahead of everyone else.

The conversation bounces around a bit before Meb steers it toward how we respond to this challenging market. What’s the answer?

James tells us there are really four options, yet not all have equal merit:

1) Concentrate. In essence, you own the market about which you’re most optimistic. For him, that would be emerging market value stocks. Of course, buying and holding here will be hard to do.

2) Use leverage. Just lever up the portfolio to reach your target return. The problem here is this is incompatible with a valuation-based approach. Using leverage implies you know something about the path that the asset will take back to fair value – yet it may not go that route. You may end up needing very deep pockets – perhaps deeper than you have.

3) Seek alternatives like private equity and private debt. The problem here is most are not genuinely alternative. They’re not uncorrelated sources of return. James tell us that alternatives are actually just different ways of owning standard risk.

4) The last option is James’ preferred choice. Quoting Winnie the Pooh: “Never underestimate the power of doing nothing.”

Next, Meb brings up “process” as James has written much about it. James tells us that process is key. Professional athletes don’t focus on winning – they focus on process, which is the only thing they can control. This is a great part of the interview which delves into process details, behavioral biases, how to challenge your own views, and far more. James concludes saying “Process is vitally important because it’s the one thing an investor can control, and really help them admit that their own worst enemy might be themselves.”

There’s plenty more in this great episode: James’s answer to whether we’re in a bubble, and if so, what type… market myths that people get wrong involving government debt… and of course, James’ most memorable trade. This one was a loser that got halved…then halved again…then again…then again…

How did James get it so wrong? Find out in Episode 107.

May 23 2018

59mins

Play