Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.London House Prices Bubble, Debt Slavery, Crimea 2.0 - Russia Ukraine Annexation - Nadeem_Walayat
2. Gold And Silver – 2014 Coud Be A Yawner; Be Prepared For A Surprise - Michael_Noonan
3.Sheffield, Rotherham Roma Benefits Plague, Ch5 Documentary Gypsies on Benefits & Proud - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Glaring Q.E. Failure Spotted - Money Velocity Is Falling Rapidly - Jim_Willie_CB
5.Don't Miss the Boat on Big Biotech Catalysts: Keith Markey - Keith Markey
6.Gold Prices 2014: Do What Goldman Does, Not What It Says - David Zeiler
7.Bitcoin Price Strong Appreciation to Be Followed by Declines? - Mike_McAra
8.Gold Preparing to Launch as U.S. Dollar Drops to Key Support - Jason_Hamlin
9.Doctor Doom on the Fiat Money Empire Coming Financial Crisis - Andrew_McKillop
10.The Real Purpose Of QE - It’s Not Employment - Darryl_R_Schoon
Last 72 Hrs
America has Become a Police State - 19th Apr 14
Elite Herd Psychology And War By Default - 19th Apr 14
E.U. Officially Adopts the Bank Depositors Bail-In - 19th Apr 14
Goldman Sachs Is Highly Motivated To Low-Ball Gold Price - 19th Apr 14
Save MtGox - Bitcoin Important Implications of Going Down - 19th Apr 14
Stock Market SPX Topping Valuations - 19th Apr 14
Tesco Profits Panic! Back to Back £5 Off £40 Shop Voucher Promotions - 18th Apr 14
The Obama Game - Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap? - 18th Apr 14
The Growing Threat to Capitalism - 18th Apr 14
Build Biotech Wealth on Solid Platforms - 18th Apr 14
Has Solar Power Finally Arrived? - 18th Apr 14
Bank Depositor Bail-Ins and Real Assets vs Liability-Based Assets - 18th Apr 14
10 Ways to Screw up Your Retirement - 17th Apr 14
One of Harry Dent’s Three Keys to Market Prediction is Cycles - 17th Apr 14
Obamacare Proof Stocks - 17th Apr 14
Gold, Silver And The Mining Sector: Prepare For A Severe Fall - 17th Apr 14
Hidden Australian Life Sciences Bio-tech Growth Stocks - 17th Apr 14
Disrupting Big Data Status Quo - 17th Apr 14
What the Stock Market Bears Have Been Waiting for... - 17th Apr 14
Copper Is Pathological and Suffers from SAD, but It Has Value - 17th Apr 14
Old World Order New World Order, Chaos And Change - 17th Apr 14
Even The US Government Will Abandon the U.S. Dollar - 17th Apr 14
Gold - Coming Super Bubble - 17th Apr 14
Glaring Q.E. Failure Spotted - Money Velocity Is Falling Rapidly - 16th Apr 14
High-Frequency Insider Trading - 16th Apr 14
Gold Prices 2014: Do What Goldman Does, Not What It Says - 16th Apr 14
These CEOs Will Make Investors Rich - 16th Apr 14
Climate Change, Central Banking And The Faustian Bargain - 16th Apr 14
Every Central Bank for Itself - 16th Apr 14
Social Security, U.S. Treasury Stealing Every Last Penny From Americans - 16th Apr 14
Ukraine Falling to Economic Warfare and Its Own Missteps - 16th Apr 14
Silver and Gold Miners Still Disappoint - 16th Apr 14
Silver, Gold, and What Could Go Wrong - 15th Apr 14
How I Intend to Survive the Meltdown of America - 15th Apr 14
France Wakes Up To The Multicultural Multi-Threat - 15th Apr 14
The Real Purpose Of QE - It’s Not Employment - 15th Apr 14
Peak Coal - 15th Apr 14
Flash Crash, Rigged Markets - What’s the Frequency Zenith? - 15th Apr 14
Forecasting U.S. GDP Growth: A Look at WSJ Economists’ Collective Crystal Ball - 15th Apr 14
Stock Market - Is Something Nasty About to Happen? - 15th Apr 14
How to Trade Your Way To Freedom - 15th Apr 14
Understanding (and Ignoring) the Media Bandwagon Against Gold - 15th Apr 14
When Stock Market Bubble Crashes, Take Refuge in Gold Stocks - 15th Apr 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Why Inflation is the Economy's Hidden Iceberg in 2013

Economics / Inflation Dec 31, 2012 - 06:35 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Economics

Martin Hutchinson writes: Even though Ben Bernanke's Fed has kept interest rates close to zero, inflation hasn't been a big problem since the 2008 financial crisis.

Despite what many observers have expected inflation has remained quite tame.

However in 2013, that may be about to change. One factor that might cause a surge in inflation is the fiscal cliff.


That's because Bernanke is already buying $1 trillion of Treasury and housing agency bonds each year ($85 billion per month) against a budget deficit that is about the same level.

That means the inflow of funds to the economy from the Fed and the outflow of money to fund the government's spending are about balanced.

However, if we go over the fiscal cliff the Federal deficit immediately falls to about $300 billion per annum. At that point, Bernanke would be injecting an extra $700 billion a year into the economy - which would have a corresponding inflationary effect.

The Case for Higher Inflation
But that's only part of the inflationary story.

Central banks around the world are also expanding their money supply. China has become more expansive, the European Central Bank is buying bonds of the continent's dodgier governments and Britain like the United States is monetizing nearly all the debt it creates to fund its budget deficit.

The big change in 2013 is now in Japan, where the new Abe government has told the Bank of Japan it wants much more buying of government bonds, to push the inflation rate up to 2%.

And just as Bernanke's money creation increases inflation internationally, Japan's new monetary push creation will likely increase inflation here in the United States.

In this case, theexcess money creation will get transmitted to inflation mostly through commodity prices.

The Thomson Reuters/Jeffries CRB Continuous Commodity Index closed recently at just over 300, about double its value ten years ago. And after a period of weakness in 2011-12, the index has recently showed renewed strength.

Now I admit, doubling in ten years may not sound very impressive, but that's a rate of increase of 7% per annum. It only follows that if the basic elements of everything we consume are increasing in price at 7% per annum, then impossible to believe prices overall will rise by only 2% in the future.

In one respect, we've been lucky when it comes to natural gas prices. Thanks to new "fracking" techniques the U.S. natural gas prices have been cut in half over in the last four years.

This has given both consumers and producers a boost, and kept inflation down. But the bad news is that natural gas prices appear to have bottomed out around April 2012, and are now well above their low. Going into 2013, higher natural gas prices may well be inflationary as well on the commodities side.

Why You Can't Trust the Inflation Figures
An additional factor tending to increase inflation is the tendency of official statistics to under-report it. This has not gone as far as in Argentina, where real inflation runs around 30% while official figures report inflation of 10%. Still, the official U.S. price indexes have since 1996 been distorted by "hedonic" prices, which adjusts prices downwards for the supposed "hedonic" advantage of chip capacity and speed enhancements in the tech sector. The effect of this appears to be about 1% a year, and it can be adjusted for.

However, a second fudge is about to be introduced. It's the "chain weighted" price indexes that both political sides have agreed to use to calculate social security and other payments.

The problem with chain weighting is that it assumes that consumers change their consumption patterns optimally according to price movements. In practice, actual human consumers cannot do this because they do not know in advance what relative price movements are coming. If they did it would be the equivalent of a ballplayer batting 1.000.

Here's why. ..

Consider an economy with two substitutable products-call them widgets and grommets. Initially both have the same price, but everyone buys widgets, which are slightly superior.

Then let's assume the price of widgets doubles in year 1. Everyone may switch to grommets, but these have not increased in price, and so the chain-weighted price index remains static.

Then in year 2, let's say the price of grommets doubles while that of widgets remains at the new higher level - so everyone switches back to widgets. But since these have not risen in price in year 2, the chain-weighted price index again remains constant.

So after 2 years, the prices of widgets and grommets have both doubled, but the price index hasn't moved at all. As I said, chain-weighting is a nothing more than a government fiddle.

The bottom line is that there's a substantial chance of a sudden upsurge in inflation in 2013, though the government statistics may reflect it only very grudgingly.

That will increase the costs of everything we buy, whatever the official statistics say.

As investors, we should avoid long-term bonds (even Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, which work off the official fudged price index) and keep a substantial portion of our wealth in gold and silver.

Source :http://moneymorning.com/2012/12/31/why-inflation-is-the-economys-hidden-iceberg-in-2013/

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2012 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014