Uncategorized

Is inflation the only way out?

At the end of a busy day of study and action, I’m looking at overall debt loads and interest rates. I’m wondering if, perhaps, the US government might seek to “accidentally” create runaway inflation for a short period to reduce the real cost of their soaring debt load. Otherwise, when interest rates go up, it’s going to be very difficult to repay. It worked for Germany in the 1920’s. No, wait, it didn’t work, did it? Still, it will be tempting when the bills come due.

Explore German hyper-inflation here.

Taking profits in energy

Today we exited our relatively high-risk energy holdings, after a very profitable short term run. I tried to hold on to get as many clients as possible long term rather than short term capital gains. However since we’ve been going sideways for a couple of weeks I thought it would be wise to take gather our profits and depart. The easy money from the days of grotesque overvaluation last year appears to have been made. Also I’m hoping that our diversified value stock mutual funds have a toehold in energy. Now we’re on to other bargains.
 
In the bigger picture, we could see either the stock or the bond markets move dramatically based on news. Both are overvalued. Our energy adventure was a bit of sideshow, compared to the bigger challenges of asset allocation and diversification. That’s where our greater attention must focus. Go slow and stay cautious.

What the 30 year Treasury bond is telling us.

On Wednesday, the government auctioned off $12 billion in U.S. Treasury 30 year bonds for the astoundingly low interest rate of 2.172%. These are taxable bonds. This means that the investors in these bonds expect essentially no economic growth in the U.S. in the next thirty years.

Consider what 30 years of “steady state” economic growth would mean.

It would mean that the stock market indexes should stall where they are or rise until the average dividend is lower than bonds, although individual issues should do well. Index funds gonna suck.
It means that we should all save much much more because average investment returns will be small.
It means that they don’t expect interest rates to rise ever. Cash and C.D’s will have zero return for the next thirty years.
It means the American Middle Class will stagnate or fade. Upward mobility will require either luck, educational prowess, or unique skills in wealth creation.
This suggests, that, should this interest rate be an accurate indicator, there will be substantial social unrest, perhaps even revolutionary movements, as the American economy withers and American frustration grows. All the central bank interventions and sweeping economic policies haven’t worked.
It seems to me that this is the biggest news of all. After all, there can’t be economic justice for any economic or ethnic group if the entire economy is fading.
Or investors are wrong, and this bond market is simply overpriced, and in a bubble.
We will only know by living through this. Eat your veggies.