One of the things we like to do here at Don’t Quit Your Day Job is to reveal interesting things hiding in plain sight. One of those things: subtracting the Daily Treasury Real Yield rate from the Daily Treasury Yield rate gives you a good idea of the market’s expectations of inflation. Even though media prognosticators won’t agree on whether we’re in for a deflationary era, hyperinflation, or a whole lot of nothing, you can get a reasonable prediction from market data. Our explanation is below, along with the limitations of this method.
We haven’t looked at inflation expectations since November 15! Quantitative easing, historically low interest rates, and a rise in consumer spending haven’t been enough to increase inflation past a tame (again, historically low) 0.7% since December of 2009. However, we live in the real world and even if we were spared from inflation’s clutches today, we might not be so lucky in the future. On that note, let’s look at the market’s inflation expectations – which we calculate by subtracting the Treasury’s Daily Real Curve Rates from the Daily Treasury Yield Curve.
One pays a dividend, has enterprise value, and has the potential for growth. One is a piece of metal long accepted as a store of value. Which one do you invest in: gold (or silver) mining stocks, or gold (or silver!) itself?
How did you react to the stock market’s (defined, in my mind, as the S&P 500 index) recent precipitous drop? If you’re like many investors, you moved out of ‘risky’ assets such as stocks and into ‘safe’ assets such as money market funds and stable value funds. Unfortunately, the seeming safety of fixed income investments is a mirage… hidden forces, such as the danger of inflation, make ‘safe’ investments less safe than first glance. Paradoxically, the recent movement to safer portfolios has put many people at risk for a reduction in the real value of their money in inflation adjusted dollars.
As noted in a CNN article today, one way to gauge the market’s reading of current conditions is by reading the bond yields. Twice I’ve taken a look at how you can use Treasury Inflation Protected Securities plotted with the Daily Treasury Yield Curve to get a glimpse at the market’s inflation expectations (TIPS adjust their value due to CPI). Some other interesting ratios are presented, the treasury yield curve on its own, and the spread between junk bonds and government debt.
In an earlier article, I detailed how you could check on inflation expectations using information publicly available from the Department of the Treasury. Using the data they provide, it is simple to calculate the market’s expectations for inflation over the next 5, 7, 10, and 20 Year periods. Let’s take another look not at the 2009 inflation rate, but the expected inflation rate of the future viewed through ‘2009’ colored glasses.
There are three ways for a government to pay for debt: issue new debt, collect taxes, and cause inflation. Inflation is a ‘hidden tax’ on a populace- it decreases the value of future money, and allows governments to pay off their current debt with devalued money. The United States dollar, as the world’s reserve currency, gives the United States a unique temptation (opportunity?) to pay off their debts in a currency it can print. What exactly is inflation, though? And if you believe inflation is on the way, how do you set yourself up to counteract it?
Next month, the minimum wage in America is going to raise from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 an hour. The $6.55 to $7.25 jump is the last of the increases to the minimum wage under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. The minimum wage is a sexy law; politicians can stand hand in hand with the lowest income workers and say, “I’m fighting for you!”. Unfortunately, the low income workers are holding the hands that hold them down.
“A penny saved, is a penny earned,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack. The quote is repeated as fact by many people, often while picking pennies off the ground. Our friend Ben lived in a simpler time, and it’s time to revisit this famous quote with a little (disgusting? intriguing?) math to see if it holds up to closer scrutiny.