The End of Deflation

About a month ago I made a prediction that the whole deflation story was done and that we would start to see a rise to inflationary expectations once more. I’m feeling pretty good about that prediction despite the price cuts many retailers were making during the holiday season. I even experienced one myself in going to get a last-minute Christmas gift for my mother. So, dropping by Best Buy and picking up Curb Your Enthusiasm – The Complete First Season, I went to the cashier expecting to pay the full $36 retail; unbenknownst to me, they were instead running a half-off all HBO-series sale — I got out of there for less than $19. You might say I experienced a bit of holiday deflation first hand.

You know, I have to say, it actually felt pretty good. Suddenly, I wanted to buy every season they were selling past the first I was already getting. That just goes to validate one of the oldest truisms in Economics:

The Law of Demand.

When the price falls, demand increases. So, you can ignore all of those Macroeconomic wonks who tell you that deflation causes people to hold off spending in anticipation of lower prices. It, and almost every other aspect of Macroeconomics, is just not true. The real reason central bankers hate deflation is because it’s primarily caused by people going broke from overextending themselves in credit, and now can’t afford to pay. That would be a tragedy for the bankers; because they’re the ones who made the loans to begin with, now they would be looking at losses. Bankers hate losses. They hate them so much, they’d much rather hide behind some cooked-up lie about the harmful effects of deflation in order to call for bailouts.

Going forward, we may see some prices fall, but the deflationary scare of October and November is starting to fade. With Obama coming in and promising to stimulate the economy by deficit-spending some $1 trillion dollars or so, in combination with our pal Ben cutting interest rates to zero, we can expect that the spectre of deflation has safely been put to rest.

Although, I am expecting one more strong down leg in the market in the next few months: expect to see the Dow approach 5000 or so in 2009. What’s going to be curious to see is if gold follows it down, as it did in October, or instead, rises as gold is supposed to do. It can be hard to figure these things out, but I’m expecting it to rise this time. There should also be less forced liquidation by hedge funds, because I figure they got rung out of the market already.

Gold stocks, like Barrick, aren’t nearly as cheap as they were in October and November — when it was trading at a PE of roughly 10. It just ended the year trading at a PE of 18 or so. That stock rewarded me greatly this year. I was able to buy in at close to the bottom and nearly double my investment.

I think I’ve got the fever of just sitting on my cash and waiting for the next plunge. Of course, the problem with that is, you never exactly know when it’s going to come.

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