Jeremy Grantham sees a glimmer of light amid the overarching gloom that is dooming civilization to collapse and disorder.
The good news, as he sees it in his quarterly letter to shareholders, is a declining fertility rate and progress in alternative energy.
The new shareholder communication, written as the final piece in a six-part series of special reports with a distinctly dystopic theme, does not offer any specific investment guidance.
But the hedge fund manager’s success at foreseeing the credit crisis and focus on predicting other market bubbles has won him a respectful hearing among many market watchers.
Indeed, a recent Wall Street Journal article noted how many financial advisors closely follow Grantham’s writings as leads to emerging investment themes. One advisor also mentioned their tendency to be a somewhat “depressing” as well.
And so it is with “The Race of Our Lives,” Grantham’s current letter, which posits that avoiding “the near certainty of our running off the cliff” depends on the success of “two extraordinarily lucky…gifts that were not available to any prior stressed civilization.”
(It is the decline in babies and progress in alternative energy, set against our economy’s “reckless…use of all resources and natural systems,” that he terms “the race of our lives.”)
Grantham considers it a lucky and ironic thing that in the world’s growing affluence, wealthy people—who until the early 20th century routinely had eight or more children—now view offspring as “inconvenient and desperately expensive.”