Inflation seems an inevitable fact of life these days, but it is possible to help clients plan their investments to account for the steady increase in prices.
Inflation, in fact, has been around since ancient times, points out Daryl Montgomery in a new e-book, “Inflation Investing: A Guide for the 2010s, Volume 1.” It dates back at least as far as the Roman Empire. The major assets for investing as a hedge against inflation include precious metals such as gold and silver, energy commodities and energy company stocks, agricultural commodities and farmland, and art, antiques and collectibles.
Investing in industrial metals, currencies and short positions in bonds can also help during periods of inflation, the book points out. With spiraling budget deficits, inflation is bound to be with us for a long time. The true budget deficit picture may not even be what the government reported.
“In December 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) refused to render an audit statement on the federal government’s financial statements because of ‘widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties and other limitations.’ All of the U.S. budget deficits in the previous few decades would have been even worse than what was reported if money hadn’t been ‘borrowed’ from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid trust funds to spend on running the other operations of the federal government,” Montgomery points out.
He notes that there has been a lack of truth in government accounting, and a lack of audits of treasury departments, central banks, and reserve holdings, and says these are “tip-offs that truth is not being told.”
“In all cases, when inflation starts to rise rapidly or becomes chronic, it should be assumed that the official government figures are understating it,” Montgomery wrote.
Currency crises like the kind that occurred in East Asia in 1997 and in Iceland in 2008 can also make the effects of inflation more abrupt. With credit-rating agencies now warning U.S. investors about the credit worthiness of U.S. Treasury bonds unless Congress and the Obama administration can agree soon on an approach to curb the U.S. budget deficit, we may be seeing abrupt inflation and more difficult access to credit in the years ahead.