Monday, April 26, 2010

Inflation Dead? Not So Fast

Speaking of bubbles, a Seeking Alpha article by Thomas MacLeod points to a reaction by T-bond bulls that's characteristic of an investment class at the post-bubble "Wile E. Coyote Over The Cliff" phase. Thanks to a recent rally in Treasury securities, inflation is being declared dead by bond traders. This kind of yippee'ing is reminiscent of gold investors in 1981, when it was widely believed that Volker wouldn't or couldn't stay the anti-inflationary course. As MacLeod himself asks:
But if inflation is dead then:

1. Why is the real world market for commodities only a "few good weeks" away from all time highs?
2. Why is it that TIPs are also a whisker away from breaking to a multi-week high against non inflation protected treasuries?
3. Why is it that metals are preferred over US treasuries, JGBs, and Bunds?
4. And why is there this persistent strength in gold in multi-currency terms?

During the post-bubble blasé phase, questions like these are dismissed as foolish - at precisely the time they need to be asked. For gold, one of the apropos questions in 1981 would have been: "Can gold rocket up when real interest rates are so high?"

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