|Panic Buying Equals Increased Demand!|
In the past, I have put forth the idea that inflation could rule the day even if central banks are unable to keep the wheels on the bus and the economy collapses. This theory also known as stagflation is partially based on or dependent, on which way the dominoes fall. By this, I mean which debt goes bad first or is allowed to go bad. This theory also extends into how quickly debt spoils. In a comment, a reader several months ago wrote, It is fairly obvious that not all IOUs are deemed as trustworthy, and as trust drains from this over-indebted system, shakiest issuers' debt will lose value fastest. Junk debt is thus a Hindenburg in search of a spark all its own. Wait until corporations discover how difficult it may be to roll over all this share-buyback debt of the last few years.
A key factor in the inflation-deflation debate is that not all debt is created equal. While a parent often absolves a loan to their child the bank seldom forgives a loan on an automobile. Sometimes like in the reality game show Survivor it comes down to who is left standing. I contend winning does not always come down to who is the best, strongest, or smartest, but that luck and many other factors also come into play in how things unfold. For example, imagine two widget factories on the hill outside of town and both with the same pricing and quality product but financially weak, if a storm knocks out production at one factory resulting in its closing the other would benefit from inheriting its customers and maybe even able to raise prices.
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When it comes to assessing real-world inflation that is having a direct impact on consumers, the Fed is conspicuously absent from the conversation. The purpose of the consumer price index (CPI) is to reflect just how much inflation is eating into both our incomes and our savings but the numbers are political and do not reflect true inflation. This so-called 2% target only survives because it serves the interest of the Wall Street elite, the world’s politicians, and fiscal authorities alike. It has allowed those in power to run up endless public debt because the central bankers buy it under QE and drive the cost of carrying debt to virtually nothing. As a bonus, the top 1% of the financial elite cannot get enough of the 2% inflation hoax because it means free carry trade money will remain available.
Time and time again we have heard central bankers ticked off a litany of reasons why prolonged weak inflation, or sustained falls in prices known as deflation, worries them. This is done to justify the massive stimulus they have put forth. They note how falling prices may cause consumers to put off purchases if they expect that trend to continue. As further justification central bankers indicate that official consumer price measures may even overstate the extent of inflation. It is clear central bankers want to persuade households and financial markets that, whatever it's current reading, the inflation rate will be around their target and that inflation expectations are under control. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank has even warned of a possible “de-anchoring” of expectations if the inflation rate remains low for a long time, and particularly if oil prices fall further. “These risks have gone up and we want to be vigilant,” he said.
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My favorite definition or rule about inflation, its effect on the economy, and how it impacts savings goes like this, "Inflation is a thief that robs those who are improperly invested, and gives the money to those properly invested." This would, of course, be referring to those who had the foresight to position their investments for its emergence. The same can be said about deflation, it mimics in reverse the process, also acting as a way to transfer wealth between parties. The problem is to timing and identifying the approach of these two strong economic forces. I have found the mindset of investors and of the "money people" often shifts into overdrive when opportunities for speculation arise. The distortion caused by easy money from Federal Reserve policy coupled with political and social compassion for affordable housing, medical care, has obvious implications as debt and promises continue to rise.
Most economists agree the Central Banks are not in a position to tighten the money supply at this time because such a move would have a devastating effect on markets, this would filter down into pension funds and retirement schemes. Remember, so many of the things we invest in are merely promises and such, hard assets are rare. A word of caution, while hyperinflation does not occur that often when it hits the speed at which it can occur surprises and it is clearly a game-changer. I continue to contend the primary reason that inflation has not raised its ugly head or become a major economic issue is because we are pouring such a large percentage of wealth into intangible products or goods. This includes currencies, equities, and all forms of paper promises. If faith drops in these intangible "promises" which have become the foundation of our financial system money would suddenly flow into tangible goods seeking a safe haven. This would cause inflation to soar.