The number one topic since Thursday's Employment Report has been inflation. Depending on who you listen to, the US is either about to, or already experiencing an inflationary cycle. The idea of inflation - rather than the actuality - is easily attached to in "Sounds right Macro" as virtually everyone can point to something that's price is higher than before as evidence. The truth is creating inflation is much harder than most think.

In the developed market space, disinflation (and even flashes of deflation) have been far more common over the last 30 years. Asset price inflation has filled the void and created a safe harbor for the Neo-inflationists. The recent drop in the Unemployment rate has sparked a flurry of inflation sightings.

Although we believe this cycle will be scored nominally, we are not convinced a general inflation cycle has emerged. Central Bank(er) focus and QE have promulgated the impending inflation story. Remember the "Dollar crashing" hype of 2010? The reality is the widespread development of derivative contracts act as a huge impediment to a CB that wants more inflation. Consider the economic blowback to the Taper last Spring. Futures markets were able to fast forward to multiple tightenings at the first hint of Fed adjustment.

Volcker showed incredible resolve in cracking the 70's inflation spiral. His success is highly correlated - but rarely linked to - the invention and use of financial futures. The ability to create inflation in the developed world since the use of these products has become widespread has been spotty, at best.

Even after last week's solid report, FI futures have rebounded into the growing inflation meme. The energy complex retreated sharply. If and when inflation gains some traction in the US, we fully expect the Bond Vigilantes to ride into town "a whoopin' and a hollerin' " as Slim Pickens used to say, and scare the daylights out of the citizens of Rock Ridge. (#GIK)

3 thoughts on “Inflation

  1. Stephen

    I’m a little daft, how do derivative contracts “act as a huge impediment” to CB driven inflation? Their prediction of tightening negates CB credibility somehow?

    1. Kevin Post author

      daft? daft is it? they act as an impediment because they violently and quickly move to over adjust to the possibility. show me the evidence to the contrary

      1. Stephen

        I asked in earnest, as I’ve never heard this take. I get that they over adjust to the possibility, just hard for me to see how their predictions prevent inflation.

        Then again, I don’t think any CB has ever proven credible in creating, only taming, inflation, and it’s a result of lower productivity which nobody understands and overly generous fiscal policy. Seen some of the former, not really the latter so I do agree with your conclusion.

        Rock ridge, rock ridge….splendid


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *