Going Out on a Limb on Inflation
Mainstream media is full of inflation stories. The reporting is shallow and comes with a lot of short and long term hand-wringing. I understand short term concerns, but I challenge the longer-term hand-wringing.
I think that the inflation we are now seeing will be temporary and by Spring 2022 will start to rapidly decline. We are moving through a short-term massive disruption in the global economy, not the beginning of baked in long-term inflation.
Over the last few months, the financial press has framed the current bout of inflation as to whether it is a short-term blip or a more dangerous long-term trend. It is the former. The only question is when will the current 6% inflation rate decline. I think it will slowly fall off starting in January and will be at minimal levels by late Spring. Why I to see the inflation as temporary:
-COVID-19 renders any year-to-year comparison invalid 2019–2021
-we have not fully moved beyond the pandemic status globally.
-when given the cover of inflation, companies will raise prices
-buying habits will be changing rapidly
Let’s take a closer look at these four.
COVID-19 renders any year-to-year analysis to be invalid.
During the summer and fall of 2020, when speaking to groups of CEOs or C-level executives at corporations, I warned them that any year-to-year comparisons would provide invalid comparisons. It would not be valid to compare September 2020 to September 2019 due to the virus. Going forward, it would not be valid to compare say September 2021 to 2020, but only within the context of comparing September 2021 to the same month in 2019. The virus might totally skew any year- to-year comparisons. This is one of the reasons that I am annoyed with current reporting that is not pointing this out.
Look at two liquids most households buy, milk and gasoline.
November 2019 2020 2021 2019/2021%
Gallon of gasoline $3.94 $2.22 $3.41 -13%
Gallon of whole milk $3.45 $3.32 $3.66 +6%
It is clear that while prices may be up 6% 2020–2021 they are not up that much when compared to the last non-virus year