The ECB has tweaked the words and now has low interest rates forever, and a new mandate to “tolerate” higher inflation. What will it achieve? To answer look at the failed 30 year experiment in Japan and the multiple parallels. The outlook for Europe as a global economic and innovative powerhouse looks shaky.
Its “Freedom Day” in the UK, but it feels same as, same as. Bond markets look stressed, but freak weather is raising the probability government intervention dwarfing the scale of the pandemic may become necessary. There will not be a gradual, ordered progression to a new higher temperature climate. Instead… the reality looks like high-cost chaotic freak-weather events becoming increasingly common. The cost could hit trillions.
What Inflation? “Oh, that’s nothing to worry about, the central banks have no choice but to keep juicing markets”… The market is so focused on the short-term and ignoring the consequences of the last 10 years of QE, monetary experimentation and easy rates, that its blundering into the next crisis. Inflation matters, and has jumped from financial assets into the real economy.
The weather on the Pacific Northwest has turned ugly, as might the financial weather if the current degree of market complacency proves unfounded!
As the US Fed meets to discuss rates and assess the real inflation threat, the UK Covid-freedom delay is likely to stall recovery momentum and add to the economic pain being felt at the micro-level. Markets are pricing for a transitory inflation bloom, but what is the real inflation outlook and what will it mean for bond markets as the European Union launches Europe’s fully mutualised funding programme – don’t anyone tell the Germans its happened!
Money supply economists argue inflation is nailed on, even if Central Banks and Governments taper QE and hold back further fiscal spending binges. But the consequences of the last 12 years of monetary experimentation, the massive inflation in financial asset prices, the changed investment environment, and rising inequality mean the coming crisis really will be different this time. Maybe it’s not inflation we should fear, but its much more evil and thuggish sibling – Stagflation.
As the UK and Yoorp prepare for a set-to over Sausages, the real issue remains inflation vs deflation. Are rising PPIs in China due to speculation on commodities boosting prices, is inflation due to supply glitches, and are the longer-term threats of Central Bank taper, growing West-East tension, and the reality of pandemic debt likely to tip us back into a deflationary cycle?
Forget the noise from crashing crypto – the big issue for markets is cutting through the buzz of contradictions to perceive the real picture presented by the threats of: inflation, taper tantrum and price sustainability. This is going to be an “interesting” summer.. (If it ever stops raining…)
Markets are full of noise about everything from inflation, risk, leverage and politics, but the reality is we are approaching “Peak Speculation”. It doesn’t mean a crash in imminent, but that investment strategies and approaches are going to have to factor in a new reality, and be far more suspicious, questioning and smart as a new reality takes hold. The consequences of QE and other factors that fuelled the speculative age could be with us for decades.
Across the Occidental Economy there seems a trend towards political failure as polarization, sleaze and opportunism takes hold, even as electorates suffer from increasing inequality and declining prospects. As the threat of post-pandemic inflation rises, the ingredients are all there for further instability and labour strife. It’s all happening as the geo-political spheres of influence between China and the West are being redrawn.