How Long Does It Take to Tame Inflation?

  • Excerpts from a TGIF 2 Minutes written 11 1/2 months ago follow.
  • Today, the US Fed is not finished raising interest rates.
  • Inflation is still around for multiple reasons.
  • Note the emphasized comments in bold.

Wind back to October 2022: A question that may be on a number of people’s minds was, “How long will it take to tame inflation?” Unfortunately, there was very little telling. Part of the reason is that inflation is always part of a complicated economy. Predictions about the timing of inflation (and hard-landing/soft-landing) are nearly impossible.

To add to the confusion, emotions – specifically people’s expectations of inflation – are part of what keeps inflation around. In this inflationary cycle (as of October 2022), inflation had already stuck around longer than at almost any time in US history; long enough to increase people’s expectations that inflation would not go away quickly. The US Fed had stated one of its original intentions was to lower consumers’ inflationary expectations. But the Fed may have missed that boat late in 2021 due to forces out of its control, namely, the pandemic aftermath. Note that today in late September 2023 inflation is still running strong.

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A Little Paranoia Can Be OK

From the 2022 Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes with a few updates…

Record-breaking, big outlier events tend to move the needle to extremes in the economy and stock market. Note the word, “outlier”. Outlier events typically are surprises and are often unlikely. In his beyond excellent book The Psychology of Money* author Morgan Housel lists five events that were outliers over history in the US with world-changing consequences:

  • The Great Depression
  • World War II
  • The dot-com bubble
  • September 11th**
  • The housing crash of the mid-2000’s.

A conclusion could be drawn from the book’s chapter titled, “Surprise!” that surprises are perhaps the most reliable thing going. But the irony of the reliability of surprises is we do not know what the surprise is until after it has unfolded.

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Difficult Spending Realities

*Please see footnote below for a CORRECTION to last week’s edition, TGIF 2 Minutes – Tax & 401k Infor for ALL Ages. Thank you to my astute readers!

On to this week’s edition:
So far, 2023 has been a decent year, even slightly better than decent, for the stock market and the short-term end of the bond market (total return).

When times are mostly good it becomes easier to feel comfortable spending more money or making major purchases. BUT –

  • as we are still in a fairly dire inflationary environment,
  • with longer-term consumer price effects still to be seen (up or down, but most likely UP)
  • and following over 12 months of Federal Reserve interest rate increases,

currently it makes sense to thoroughly think through – and take more time (perhaps a couple of years) – making major spending decisions.

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