The World's Biggest Bubbles

Tyler Durden's picture

We recently discussed (see here) Alberto Gallo’s (portfolio manager of Algebris Macro Credit Fund) shot at the $64,000 (more like trillion) question in his report “The Central Bank Bubble: How Will It Burst?”.

As we said at the time, one of our favourite parts of the report was “The Money Tree” infographic which explains how QE has benefited a plethora of investment strategies and created the bubble to end all bubbles.

Having outlined four scenarios which could prick the central bank bubble, Gallo has done some further work in which he identifies what he thinks are the fourteen largest bubbles in the world today. Helpfully, he also ranks them. From the Financial Sense website.

Many economists believe that it’s impossible to recognize bubbles before they pop. However, Alberto Gallo of Algebris Investments has compiled a list of the largest potential bubbles around the world today, ranked by degree of risk based on size, duration, percent appreciation, valuations, and the types of irrational behavior driving them higher. Financial Sense spoke with him…to discuss his research, the areas he believes are highest at risk, and how he's approaching the current investment environment…Right now, the risk is high in a variety of assets around the world. “We’re in a world where most assets are overvalued,” Gallo said, which means “in a world where almost everything looks like a bubble, the definition of a bubble has to be changed.”

Besides valuation, Gallo lists another ten characteristics which are “typically present” in today’s bubbles. These are:

  1. This time is different
  2. Fear of missing out
  3. Sky is the limit
  4. Flipping
  5. No credit, no problem
  6. Buy the dip
  7. Borrow while you can
  8. Bidding wars
  9. The trend is your friend
  10. Financial engineering

As Gallo notes.

“It’s not just about valuations. It’s about irrational behaviour.”

Gallo laments that something must have become “skewed” when investors are effectively buying bonds for capital gains and stocks for dividends. This is “not normal” Gallo told Financial Sense, with heavy understatement. Getting to the important part, Financial Sense recounts Gallo’s comments on the largest bubbles he sees.

Gallo is very concerned about the negative-yielding parts of the bond market, which amount to around $8 trillion, particularly shorter-term German bonds.

 

But, in terms of the largest bubbles he sees, the most concerning are property markets in Australia, London, and Hong Kong.

 

“Sometimes, the most dangerous types of bubbles develop in property assets,” Gallo said. “They affect almost the entire population of a country, while financial assets may only be important for a smaller part of the population.”

 

Property markets in these three locations are overheated, and we are starting to see signs this overvaluation is beginning to reverse as monetary policy shifts and there is a prospect for higher interest rates. Not enough is being done about these bubbles, Gallo noted, and because of the widespread potential impact, these three are the largest and most worrisome.

 

Other areas identified as high risk for being a bubble are short VIX ETFs, Bitcoin, and FAANG stocks.

Below is Gallo’s table ranking of the fourteen largest bubbles.

Inflation was Gallo’s top pick for bursting the central bank bubble. Here he highlights this risk again and explains what he’s doing about it.

It’s important to consider how central bankers are thinking right now, Gallo said.

 

“The biggest missing piece in the chain here is inflation...Central banks have tried through any possible means to stimulate the economy, which worked. But what has happened is corporates and investors have gained, while job growth and wages are not going up.”

 

Monetary policy is a one-size-fits-all tool, he stated, and one that, if used too much, can actually increase inequality, create a misallocation of resources into financial instruments versus the real economy, and stoke asset bubbles. Currently, central banks are choosing to blow bigger bubbles instead of pulling the plug. For investors, Gallo recommends remaining vigilant, keeping liquidity high and using hedges against a coming rise in interest rates. At the same time, he is trying to short or hedge against those assets he thinks are very frothy and where a bubble could pop.

In his parting shot, he revives Chuck Prince’s famous comment and outlines his own location within the metaphor.

“Like Chuck Prince said 10 years ago, we have to keep dancing,” Gallo said. “But we’re not as reckless as the bankers in 2006 and 2007. We try to be as close to the door as possible.”

Alberto Gallo has (nearly) left the building.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
BandGap's picture

Sometimes I wake up with a boner.

813kml's picture

You never know what you might take home at closing time.

Rubicon's picture

I always wake up with a boner.

Hillarys Server's picture

But what if these three are actually true in the case of Bitcoin?

It's still early and I don't want to miss out, it's a new technology, and if faith is lost in fiat the sky might be the limit.

1. This time is different
2. Fear of missing out
3. Sky is the limit

ChumbaWumba's picture

It was true in the 90s too with the dotcom bubble.

Bitcoin has great branding and is getting better adoption.

Most of the Ethereum ICOs are bullshit (re-sell your unused SMS, resell your unused hard disk space, anything infrastructury to blockchain, we make ICOs easy, we analyze ICOs).

There will be a crash and it will be huge. 90% of wealth will be lost.

However, just like dotcom, there will be huge winners from that pack.

They're the ones that speak to your gut. The ones that you would buy. The ones lead by people with real world experience  (not ex-soviet countries) selling a service that makes sense (maybe not to you as a customer, but you can see and understand the value propossition), choose them and you'll do well.

red1chief's picture

Bitcoin is an obvious bubble, but in the long run cryptocurrencies make sense. Of course to many it won't be obvious until later...

Muppet's picture

Always the when.

Anteater's picture

100 years ago today (November 7th, 1917), the Bolsheviks started what would be known as the October Revolution. This insurrection  would plunge Russia and Eastern Europe into an era of Soviet domination for nearly a century.

Today, the Bannon Bolshevik's are celebrating their Golden Centenary, having hijacked the People's Duma, and created a New American Century Soviet of Goldman:Pentagon, new Royal Dynasties of 1,000 Years, by reducing American citizens to begging for kopeks and subsisting on turnips.

WINNING! TENT CAMPS!!

TheEndIsNear's picture

Matthew 21:12-13 King James Version (KJV)

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Dragon HAwk's picture

A little voice keeps whispering in my ear. " No Buyers for the ETFs on the way Down "

ZorroHedge's picture

Who cares Bitcoin is in a bubble ? Don't be greedy and take profits off the table at certain moments and you will do just fine with it. If you don't want to buy Bitcoin directly on an exchange, buy HIVE blockchain technologies. This is a company mining the top crypto currencies. It soared but I am pretty sure it will soar even more. The stoc kis still very cheap. 4 canadian dollar at the moment. Mining 1 Bitcoin costs 1000$, a Bitcoin costs 7500 $. This company is making insane profits.

venturen's picture

and the day you find out some hedgefund with a super computer can mine a bit coin for 1 cent?

hidflect's picture

People are buying Bitcoin but noone is using them. aka tulip bulbs.

matagorda's picture

What happens when one of the central banks decides to be the first one out?