NYT Profiles Jeremy Grantham

Long new profile of GMO investor Jeremy Grantham in the weekend NYT Magazine. His views are well known here — limits, resources, etc. — and so this is mostly to provide background and context. He is smart, a nuanced thinker, and a graceful writer, all of which come through in the piece.

Some will immediately say, of course, that this marks the end of the current commodities cycle. Others will simply nod in agreement. Either way, it’s worth a read.

Grantham’s quarterly letters often do make predictions about how the market will perform in the near future and recommend moves investors can make right now, but there are plenty of other authoritative voices telling us whether the recovery will continue or how the S&P will do this year. What sets him apart is what Ritholtz calls “the view from 40,000 feet up.” Grantham, the public face of a company that manages more than $100 billion in assets, the very embodiment of a high-finance insider in blue blazer and yellow tie, has serious doubts about capitalism’s ability to address the biggest problems facing humanity. When he reminds us that modern capitalism isn’t equipped to handle long-range problems or tragedies of the commons (situations like overfishing or global warming, in which acting rationally in your own self-interest only deepens the harm to all), when he urges us to outgrow our touching faith in the efficiency of markets and boundless human ingenuity, and especially when he says that a wise investor can prosper in the coming hard times, his bad news and its silver lining come with a built-in answer to the skeptical question that Americans traditionally pose to egghead Cassandras: If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich?

via Can Jeremy Grantham Profit From Ecological Mayhem? – NYTimes.com.


  1. Cliff Elam says:

    I am still trying to think of anything important that we've ever run out of.

    Well, will power to actually build stuff we need (refineries, research institutions, etc) but stuff that we need to take from nature has (so far) been limitless. And while people have been proclaiming the death of capitalism since it was born, it continues to mostly chug along and create an amazing explosion of average wealth and well-being.

    I guess I'm just sunny side up today.


    • There've been a lot of local and regional industries that have collapsed because we've ran out of things taken from nature. Some examples of things that we've ran out of (in terms of being able to base an industry on them) include…
      Atlantic cod, dodos, sea turtles, whales, trees on Easter Island, bluefin tuna, passenger pigeons, American buffalo, water, abalone, tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, conch, sardines, salmon, sturgeon, mahogany(?), guano…

  2. He's a great thinker, investor, and backs his views up with historical research. However, he has a bit of a green peace bias. For example, industrial commodities are not on a permanent high plateau has he claims. They are in a bubble due to massive overbuilding in Chinese residential, office space, and infrastructure. They will crash and remain depressed for a long while. Over the very long term, I have ultimate faith in human ingenuity to innovate and find alternatives as these resources deplete and become expensive.

  3. Apparently we won't run out of polar bears: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2011/08/a-w

  4. So how's that ultimate Fukushima human ingenuity thing coming along ? Sometimes boxing yourself into a corner is just boxing yourself into a corner. Not today, but ultimate is a long, long time.