inflationInflation is the way economists measure changes in the prices of goods and services. The United States has enjoyed relatively low inflation for a significant period of time. Last week, the consumer price index indicated inflation had moved lower in May.

Inflation is our focus because it is at the core of two very different opinions that currently are influencing markets and investors. A commentary on the Kitco Blog explained:

“One of the most important economic debates today is whether the economy will experience reflation or deflation (or low inflation) in the upcoming months. Has the recent reflation been only a temporary jump? Or has it marked the beginning of a new trend? Is the global economy accelerating or are we heading into the next recession?”

Another key factor is employment. Traditional economic theory holds when unemployment falls (i.e., when more people are employed) inflation will rise because demand for workers will push wages higher. That hasn’t happened yet in the United States even though unemployment has fallen significantly.

In fact, inflation remains stubbornly below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, reported The Economist. Regardless, the Federal Reserve believes higher inflation is ahead, so it raised the Fed funds rate last week and indicated it was preparing to shrink its balance sheet if the economy continues to grow as expected.

There is a group that disagrees with the Fed. They believe inflation will remain low regardless of employment levels. Barron’s wrote:

“In the theoretical world, low unemployment threatens to unleash a torrent of inflation, which needs to be staved off by tighter monetary policies. Back in the real world, disruption, innovation, and competition relentlessly drive down prices while wage growth is hard to come by.”

The difference of opinion was apparent in stock and bond markets last week. In the bond market, yields on 10-year Treasuries moved lower after the Federal Reserve raised rates. In the U.S. stock market, the top-performing sectors were Industrials, which tend to do well when investors are optimistic about growth, and Utilities, which tend to do well when investors are worried about the future.

Although these diverging opinions about how inflation effects the markets are interesting, I wouldn’t let them disrupt your investment discipline. That said, since you are probably hoping to retire one-day, inflation is something you always want to remain mindful of while you’re saving & investing for the future. For more information about how inflation can impact your retirement, read Chapter 9 in my book Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend.

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* These are the general views of Jonathan DeYoe and they should not be construed as investment advice for any individual.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.

* All indices referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.

* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* The original “Weekly Commentary” was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Jonathan DeYoe is a member of Peak Advisor Alliance and adds, subtracts and edits before publishing.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

* You cannot invest directly in an index.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

* “All eyes on inflation!”

Sources:

http://www.barrons.com/articles/bond-yields-are-going-up-right-not-so-fast-1497674052?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Bond_Yields_are_Going_Up_Right-Not_So_Fast-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.kitco.com/commentaries/2017-06-16/Reflation-Deflation-and-Gold.html
http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PhillipsCurve.html
https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21723422-economists-and-federal-reserve-are-not-about-abandon-phillips (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_TheEconomist-Inflation_Has_Not_Yet_Followed_Lower_Unemployment_in_America-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.barrons.com/mdc/public/page/9_3063-economicCalendar.html (Click on U.S. & Intl Recaps, then “Central banks move markets”)
http://www.barrons.com/articles/is-the-federal-reserve-living-in-the-real-world-1497674080?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Is_the_Federal_Reserve_Living_in_the_Real_World-Footnote_6.pdf)
http://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-mostly-edge-forward-on-muddled-data-1497675744?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Stocks_Mostly_Edge_Forward_on_Muddled_Data-Footnote_7.pdf)

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