John Hussman: The Current Market Is A “Ponzi Game”

Monday, October 4, 2010
By Paul Martin

Joe Weisenthal
BusinessInsider.com
Oct. 4, 2010

Not surprisingly, John Hussman is still negative on stocks and the economy.

In his latest weekly letter, he lays out the case that the economy is already weakening, and that the market has too much optimism priced in.

And he’s very negative on valuations right now:

To some extent, I view current market conditions as something of a “Ponzi game” in that valuations appear neither sustainable nor likely to produce acceptably high long-term returns, and speculators increasingly rely on finding a greater fool. As the mathematician John Allen Paulos has observed, “people generally worry only about what happens one or two steps ahead and anticipate being able to get out before a collapse… In countless situations people prepare exclusively for near-term outcomes and don’t look very far ahead. They myopically discount the future at an absurdly steep rate.” Undoubtedly, we have periodically missed returns due to our aversion to risks that rely on the ability to find a “greater fool” in order to get out safely. But it is important to recognize that speculative risks are not a source of durable long-term returns. At a Shiller P/E of 21 and a historical peak-to-peak S&P 500 earnings growth rate of 6%, a simple reversion to the historical (non-bubble) Shiller norm of 14 would require seven years of earnings growth and yet zero growth in prices. Stocks are not cheap here.

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