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Grantham: Fed Turns Weak Stocks Into Winners

By Dan Weil   |   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 09:49 AM

Some economists have criticized the Federal Reserve’s massive easing operation because they see it as inflationary. But Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist at investment firm GMO, has a different complaint.

The easing has turned weak stocks into winners and blue chips into losers, he says. That’s because Fed policy has "made borrowing cheaper than it should be," Grantham tells The Wall Street Journal.

As a result, "The world is an easier place for companies skating on thin ice, while the great companies don't have much debt, so it hasn't benefited them," he says.

So it is that over the past year, Google stock has dropped 1.8 percent, Cisco Systems 37 percent, Microsoft 18 percent, Johnson & Johnson 8 percent and Abbott Laboratories 1 percent.

To be sure, Grantham expects blue chips to ultimately outperform what he calls "risky, junky companies" by a large amount. But that’s not going to happen until Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke moves to boost interest rates, he says.

bernanke200.jpg
Ben Bernanke
(Getty photo)
Richard Bernstein, former chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch, doesn’t believe in large-cap stocks yet. He has bought small-cap growth stocks in a mutual fund he manages for Eaton Vance – the Eaton Vance Richard Bernstein Multi-Market Equity Strategy Fund.

“They’ll give you the best return when the market is going up,” he said. “And I think it’s going to go up.”

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Some economists have criticized the Federal Reserve s massive easing operation because they see it as inflationary. But Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist at investment firm GMO, has a different complaint. The easing has turned weak stocks into winners and blue...
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