“’Meme’ investing — the idea that something is worth investing in, or rather gambling on, simply because it is funny — has become commonplace. It’s a totally nihilistic parody of actual investing. This is it guys, the biggest U.S. fantasy trip of all time.”
That’s Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist at Boston-based money manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., in a recent interview with Bloomberg News, lamenting the state of an investment world that has prominently featured the emergence of meme-linked trading in stocks like GameStop Corp.
AMC Entertainment Holdings
and BlackBerry Ltd.
Grantham noted that the meme cryptocurrency dogecoin
is “worth billions in the market and not even pretending to be [a] serious [investment].”
“Dogecoin was created as a joke to make fun of cryptocurrencies being worthless, and, not only has it taken off, but it’s such a success that second-level joke cryptocurrencies making fun of dogecoin have gone to multibillion-dollar valuations,” he said.
Indeed, AMC Entertainment is up over 2,500% in 2021 thus far; GameStop has gained over 1,000% in the year to date; dogecoin is up by about 5,000%, despite a precipitous drop; and BlackBerry shares are up over 90% so far this year.
By comparison, traditional assets have seen more mundane returns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
is up a more than respectable 12% so far in 2021, while the S&P 500
has returned over 13% in the year to date and the Nasdaq Composite
has made a powerful comeback in June to achieve a gain of nearly 12% in the first six months of the year.
Grantham views the social-media-driven meme-stock moves as concerning and indicative of bubbles percolating in financial markets that will ultimately need to be contended with.
Grantham is worth paying attention to due to his prescient calls over the years. He said that stocks were overvalued in 2000 and again in 2007, anticipating subsequent market downturns, the Wall Street Journal reports. Grantham also signaled that elements of the financial market had become unmoored from reality leading up to the 2008–09 financial crisis.
However, his bearishness thus far hasn’t helped his core investment strategies, amid a relentless run-up in stocks, be they traditional or meme. The Nasdaq Composite has already put in back-to-back record closes this week and was aiming for a 17th record finish on Thursday, while the S&P 500 index was eyeing a record of its own.
Timing a downturn in the market is the problem for even the sagest of investors. It is impossible to know when things are collapsing for certain, but the telltale sales are always present, he noted.
“The data, like today, is always clear, just uncommercial and inconvenient for the investment industry and often psychologically impossible to see for many individuals,” Grantham told Bloomberg.