Big Names Predict Problematic Inflation: What's An Investor To Do?
Principles of the Stock Market

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Have You Seen This?

Have You Seen This?

ECONOMIC VIEW.  Rising Inflation Expected.  So predicts a whole slew of big names, everyone seems to be jumping on board this train in the last few days.  Now Warren Buffett and Bill Gross have joined Marc Faber and Jim Rogers and more in predicting problematic inflation just out there over the horizon.  Yep, as soon as deflation became the consensus buzz word – recessions kill inflation is what I’ve heard repeated from many sources – we’re getting a groundswell of opposite opinion.  Well, not quite opposite but close enough, let me explain.  Everyone agrees this slump will preclude problematic inflation but all say that’s a temporary phenomenon.  No one predicting rising inflation will go so far as to say just WHEN rising inflation is going to emerge but more and more observers are saying it’s definitely coming, arriving when this economic slump is over, whenever that is.  Again, rising inflation, no, out of control inflation, no, to put it more accurately, hyperinflation is my biggest worry.  That America printing money galore – yes, for bailing out businesses too important to the financial system to allow them to fail, and, yes, for keeping the economy greased and running, and, yes, for stimulating new growth and maintaining existing economic activity, and, yes, for overall deficit spending in this economic downturn – will come back to bite us in a big way.  I can handle some inflation, I know how to shop for bargains which will help in food and clothing needs, what I’m worried about is a major currency devaluation which wipes out mine and America’s buffer.  America’s savings becoming worthless as has happened time and again across the globe when some country’s finances just go kafluey.  When a country can’t pay its bills compounded by a wholesale lack of trust in its currency.  Schwartz View:  Hasn’t happened in the US yet, but …


So I get more nervous when I hear Warren Buffett, America’s richest man and known as the best value investor of our time, say inflation could go as high as it was in the 1970s, that’s almost double digits!  I get even more nervous when Bill Gross, who manages one of the largest bond funds going, says that US government efforts to break this recession will cause “costs for goods and services” to rise.  I respect both these guys and their opinions.  Now they join long term forecaster Jim Rogers, who is also more worried about rising inflation than deflation, best I can figure.  He’s long been predicting an US dollar crisis and really bad inflation ahead and says he’s just waiting for the proper moment to essentially “short US Treasury bonds.”  Rogers sees commodity inflation returning with a vengeance since today’s global economic slump in his view is just improving the fundamentals underpinning commodity prices.  In other words today’s credit crunch and resulting recession causing miners to delay or even shut down exploration and thus leading to a further drop in supply.  He loves to mention that global food inventories are already down to 50 year lows.  Finally, Marc Faber, the well regarded international investor and past BARRON’S Roundtable panelist, sees rising inflation from another angle.  He figures that the US government is going to have all kinds of problems in raising interest rates down the road or in effect withdrawing all the money it’s pushing into the system now to try to end today’s credit crisis.  Schwartz View:  This rising inflation camp is growing now, with many others predicting a forthcoming inflation problem as well.  I am too.


Schwartz Recommendation.  If you also worry about rising inflation, one strategy available today is to buy an inverse ETF or inverse sector fund.  One that goes up when long term US interest rates go higher.  That’s the natural reaction if inflation rises, yields generally rise forcing bond prices down.  For example ProFunds has two such funds, RTPIX and RRPIX while Rydex offers up RYJUX and in the ETF camp there’s TBT which “correspond to twice the inverse” of  the US Treasury bond.  I recommend such.

Disclaimer!  I don’t own any of the above now but can and do change positions without notice.


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Posted 03-11-2009 8:48 AM by Richard Schwartz