Bubbles are evident and only get acknowledged after they pop. Such is because, during the inflation phase of the market bubble, investors rationalize why “this time is different.”
We have seen many examples of this rationalization over the last couple of years. Such as stocks are cheap based on economic growth, low-interest rates justify high valuations or the “moral hazard” of the “Fed put.” Other examples come from the analysis of stock prices, such as this tweet recently.
While the analysis is correct, average stock prices do not solely define a bubble.
Such is where we need to start.
What Is A Bubble?
According to Investopedia:
“A bubble is a market cycle that is characterized by the rapid escalation of market value, particularly in the price of assets. Typically, what creates a bubble is a surge in asset prices driven by exuberant market behavior. During a bubble, assets typically trade at a price that greatly exceeds the asset’s intrinsic value. Rather, the price does not align with the fundamentals of the asset.“
This definition is suitable for our discussion; there are three components of a “bubble.” The first two, price and valuation, as noted above, are get dismissed or rationalized during the inflation phase. That rationalization is due to investor psychology and the “Fear Of Missing Out (F.O.M.O.)
Jeremy Grantham posted the following chart of 40-years of price bubbles in the markets. During the inflation phase, each got rationalized that “this time is different.”