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Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Inflation Picture

For me, the primary stimulants of inflation are commodities
prices and a range of key cyclical sector operating rates.
My inflation stimulus pressure gauge is essentially flat
for the past six months, suggesting little forward momentum
for inflation. As I have argued, the "core" inflation rate,
or inflation excluding volatile commodities such as energy
and foodstuffs, is overdue to show some acceleration following
the dramatic run-up in fuels prices in recent years. Nevertheless,
the inflation vanguard has slowed. Moreover, productive capacity
overall is beginning to grow a little faster.

The inflation pressure gauge remains on a high plateau, and
the recent positive bounce in oil and refined products is
putting a little stress on the financial markets. Iran, with
help from an equally belligerent Bush admin. is doing a swell
job of kiting the oil price and keeping traders in the game.
There is plenty of supply, but an abundance of fear as well,
and traders are thankful as it is keeping the oil price
up ahead of the forthcoming US hurricane season. After the
last two years, you can bet that weather.com will get a big
play as the air warms in July and August.

There is even a growing buzz on the web that the US is planning
to try and take out Iran's nuclear capacity. Understandable
given the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes when He spots
peril. And there's the low approval rating, too. Patriotism
as the last refuge of a scoundrel and all that.

Interesting stuff all, but at quite an advance to the economics
on the ground. There is a message here too for the Fed as well,
which is not to overreact to the powerful scarcity fear psychology
gripping the petrol sector.

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