Wednesday, May 12, 2021

 Inflation Kills

Coming soon to a purchase near you...inflated prices! Often called "the silent killer," in economic terms that's exactly what inflation does; it strips away the buying power of the consumer. This morning's Consumer Price Index (CPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was truly shocking, well at least to people who haven't eaten food, driven a car, or purchased any physical goods for the past several months. For average Americans, there has been no doubt the damage being done to their purchasing power. Everything of value is markedly higher. A lot higher.

Over the past 12 months the all items index rose 4.2%, the largest increase in 13 years. That doesn't sound like much, right? Consider some of the outlying data: the index for used cars and trucks rose 10% in APRIL alone, this was the largest 1-month increase since 1953. The energy index has risen 25.1% over the past 12 months. Food they claim "only" rose 2.4%...assuming you're buying in bulk, and I don't mean Costco, I mean TONS of soybeans. Who are they interviewing for these price points, animals on a farm?

As previously mentioned, inflation is the silent killer. Why does inflation kill? Inflation kills because it marginalizes the backbone of our society: the American Middle Class. The Middle Class is the most sensitive to out-of-pocket purchases; typically they are small business owners or employees subject to the inelastic demand for vital goods-and-services; like gasoline, food, housing, education, medical for example. Inflation ravishes the American Dream because the cost for life necessities consume an ever-increasing share of the Middle Class wallet.

What can be done? As financial farmers you can vote with you money by buying stocks in companies that have the power to pass on increased costs to consumers. Darwinian? Yes. Effective? Yes. Buying inflation pegged consumer staples puts you in lockstep with bad government policy, at least you don't get crushed twice. Second, you can vote members of Congress out of office who do not have a sense of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, this takes years. So an alternative approach is to vote with your feet to lower cost areas of the country. If this isn't a viable option, then stick with ideas 1 & 2, and in particular make a God-awful stink to your local, regional, State, and Federal government. Remember they work for you!

Failed fiscal and monetary policy results in rampant inflation. The first flight is usually into dirt (real estate) and gold...fiat paper money continues to lose purchasing power until costs become absurd. In Weimar Germany wheelbarrows full of money were needed to purchase simple goods. Are we there yet? Not by a long shot, but rampant spikes in real estate, food, and vehicles indicate that people aren't dumb to what is occurring...money for nothing never ends well. You can't expect to burn a candle at both ends and not have the lights go out.