Monday, March 28, 2011

Inflation is Picking Up

While Bernanke continues to look in the rear view mirror hoping to spot some deflation, the facts on the ground and the road ahead are clearly all about rising inflation. The February CPI numbers released today, an annual rate of five percent should give Bernanke and his QE2 activity a reason to reflect. It is true that in a world of no food and no energy the numbers look better, but who lives in that world?

What are the implication of rising inflation? Trouble in bond land. This means investor losses on bonds and headwinds for stocks. Unanticipated inflation is always bad news for stocks. Inflation reduces the value of the national debt, but inflation increases the deficit, offsetting the former effect.

One big plus: the housing market will benefit from increasing inflation, mostly because homeowners are big debtors and have fantastic tax advantages compared to the owners of any other asset (even better than owning oil wells!). Those who buy homes now and over the next year or two will be big winners. Stocks will do fine longer term, bonds are headed for disaster, and homeowners will strike gold.