-- Posted Sunday, 12 April 2009 | Digg This Article | | Source: GoldSeek.com
Anybody who wants to read up on the ‘paradox of inflation’ should turn to Dr Marc Faber’s classic ‘Tomorrow’s Gold’ for guidance. Even six years after publication this remains the best investment book currently on sale.
His foresight is amazing and the most part of a chapter is devoted to explaining how high levels of inflation impact on asset prices. That investors will switch from fiat currencies to precious metals is obvious enough.
However, Dr Faber also highlights what he calls the ‘paradox of inflation’, namely that with general price levels surging asset classes like equities actually become very cheap. He cites numerous historical examples, such as Weimar Germany.
Now in November 2002 when ‘Tomorrow’s Gold’ was published talk of hyper inflation looked pretty ridiculous. Yet in the Bild newspaper the German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck warns that the world could face an inflation crisis in the medium term, after the immediate economic crisis ends, due to the huge amounts of liquidity being pumped into financial markets.
He said: ‘What causes me concern is that the next crisis is already being programmed because of all the enormous debt-financed counter measures being conducted worldwide’. For good measure he dismissed calls for a third German stimulus package in six months as ‘nonsense’.
But Steinbrueck is being over-powered by what he previously described as ‘British crass Keynesianism’ as governments ramp up spending around the world. Last week Japan announced a $154 billion stimulus package to add two per cent to GDP.
Yet if Dr Faber’s original thesis holds true then investors ought to be dumping stocks to buy precious metals now, and then waiting for a hyperinflation to make equities a once in a generation buy. The logic is clear: gold will keep and actually enhance its buying power while inflation will undermine stocks, providing a tremendous buying opportunity.
It would be interesting to know what the original Dr Doom thinks about this theory today. But as with most paradoxes there is surely a simple explanation.
In periods of inflation companies find it impossible to raise prices fast enough to keep up with rising costs, so their profits margins are squeezed and therefore their shares are worth less, although not necessarily worthless. It is the reverse of the miraculous low inflation and high profit growth rates of recent years, admittedly only sustained by the ultimately unsustainable expansion of global credit.
Investors have to adapt to survive, and jumping back into previous boom asset classes far too early is a classic error. The trick, as Marc Faber says in his book, is to spot the next asset class bubble forming and get in and out before things get out of control.
Perhaps those rushing too late into the month-old US equity bear market rally might reflect on that concept, and consider selling out to buy hard assets before inflation takes hold. Inflation is, of course, suicidal for bonds and devalues paper currencies.
-- Posted Sunday, 12 April 2009 | Digg This Article | Source: GoldSeek.com
Previous Articles by Peter Cooper
About Peter Cooper:
Oxford University educated financial journalist Peter Cooper found himself made redundant by Emap plc in London in the mid-1990s and decided to rebuild his career in Dubai as launch editor of the pioneering magazine Gulf Business. He returned briefly to London in
1999 to complete his first book, a history of the Bovis construction group.
Then in 2000 he went back to Dubai to become an Internet entrepreneur, just as the dot-com market crashed. But he stumbled across the opportunity to become a partner in www.ameinfo.com, which later became the Middle East's leading English language business news website.
Over the course of the next seven years he had a ringside seat as editor-in-chief writing about the remarkable transformation of Dubai into a global business and financial hub city. At the same time www.ameinfo.com prospered and was sold in 2006 to Emap plc for $27 million, completing the career circle back to where it began a decade earlier.
He remains a lively commentator and columnist as a freelance journalist based in Dubai and travels extensively each summer with his wife Svetlana. His financial blog www.arabianmoney.net is attracting increasing attention with its focus on investment in gold and silver as a means of prospering during a time of great consumer price inflation and asset price deflation.
Order my book online from this link