About Me

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, November 23, 2017

Continuing Bet Against Inflation

My longer term inflation pressure gauge strongly suggests some acceleration of inflation
pressure over 2018 - 19. However, the shorter term inflation pressure measure, although
hitting a low this year, has advanced only meekly despite a nearly global advance in economic
momentum. The broad CRB commodities index is up but slightly over levels seen in mid-2016.
Even the industrial commodities composites have leveled off after advancing earlier this year.
I think it is true that despite faster economic growth, there is still significant excess plant capacity
in the world, but there are a couple of other factors worth remembering. One major one has been
the very substantial over-investment in inventories in evidence for at least the past five years. I
believe excess stocks are being worked off and that as near term supply comes into better
balance with demand, commodity prices should rise a bit faster. The other big change we have
seen since the early part of this new century has been the 'financialization' of materials markets
through rapid growth of futures trading and the development of products that both traders and
investors can access without having to deal with the actual physical volumes themselves.After
the major global economic downturn of 2007- 09, materials markets have have lost favor to
the financials reflecting the continuing imbalance between materials supply / demand.

However as the slack comes out of the materials markets and inventory overhangs are cleared,
there may well be a shift in trader preferences from financials back toward materials, one which
could be much stronger than the actual improvement of materials demand vs. supply.

With prospects for faster inflation still rather humble short term, the financial markets still
hold sway. Consider the exceptional tightening of the yield curve: 30y Treas% - 2y%

8 comments:

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