The inflation we are experiencing in the United States is more than just money printing. It is because of herd mentality here in the States compounded by a growing lack of trust in the US Dollar abroad.
Demand for Benjamins Abroad
When I lived in Malaysia, each weekend there was a line that stretched for at least a few dozen people at a mall named Mid Valley in heart of Kuala Lumpur. That line was people exchanging their local currency – the Malaysian ringgit, into US Dollars. They did so to preserve purchasing power since their local currency was being devalued due to their country’s dependence on oil production for their economy. You see, when the US dollar is the world reserve currency it tends to preserve its power since everyone wants to collect them and not necessarily spend them. Imagine if everyone in the world was doing the same, and not just the mom and pop citizens but also entire governments!
This action takes circulating USD out of circulation at least temporarily, and demand of this nature makes the USD stronger versus the currency that are being exchanged out of. Even though both the US and Malaysia were making fiat (and I’m not talking about the poorly made cars) paper currency, the US benefits from strong demand from other countries continuing to prop up the dollar and wanting to sell their goods for dollars.
Herd Mentality Causing Price Spikes at Home
Now if you tune into CNN or some other popular news channel you will be told that price hikes have to do exclusively with ports being backed up due to Covid related worker shortages – this is not the whole story. Demand for goods is higher, and the desire to hoard goods hasn’t completely gone away from more than a year ago (remember when everything was rationed?). If you go to the local Costco or Sams Club here in Albuquerque they are still limiting the number of bottle water packs you can buy to two or three, people seem to still be being more toilet paper than normal, and there are folks who are already finishing up their Christmas shopping for fear of items not being available or being much more expensive come December. This spending is what I like to call velocity of money in motion, and is causing prices to go up on main street.
What about Real Estate?
The cash that the Federal Reserve created months and years ago had already funneled into the financial system first and caused companies flush with cash to go for asset buying sprees, such as real estate. Big companies like OpenDoor and Zillow bought homes over their value, in anticipation of “flipping” them and making money purely from the upward price trend that was happening since mid 2020. The only problem is individuals stopped receiving stimulus checks and companies started opening up and wanting people to get back to work – slowing down the home buying and turning the rising price trend around if even slightly.
I wholeheartedly expect home prices to fall in the hottest areas this winter, but I do think the fall will be short-lived as moderate inflation catches up. People will start to demand higher wages and the most profitable industries will be able to provide them. Industries that cannot adjust their prices very much to keep track with inflation will suffer, and their employees will suffer with stagnant wages. I expect the agriculture industry to come out of this better than before, same with companies that sell inelastic goods such as food and modest housing. Luxury housing will suffer along with luxury good industries.
What can I do?
Go back to my blog and read the article titled “How To Preserve Your Assets During 1970’s Style Inflation?”
Make sure your income keeps up with inflation, pivot to make that happen. Make sure you have skills that are in demand that are well compensated for if you’re starting out, and if you already have assets make sure they are cash flowing. Having debt during high inflation is a great thing as long as your income keeps up with inflation. For example, if you own a rental property and pay a 30 year fixed rate mortgage ideally you’ll be able to adjust your rent for inflation.
Inflation is not transitory in that it will return to what it was before Jerome Powell’s speech. It may slow down and prices for certain things may decrease as supply rises to meet demand, but you shouldn’t be dormant with your cash but put it to work ASAP. Watch for a real estate correction this winter for a buying opportunity if you’ve been waiting. Don’t panic.