With the recent news that year-on-year inflation has reached 5%, a level not seen in over a decade, the rising prices that consumers have been seeing for months are finally reflected in official government statistics. That’s little consolation for those whose paychecks have been eroded further and further every month, for those in the market for houses or cars who have seen prices continue to rise, and for retirees on fixed incomes who have seen their cost of living skyrocket while their bank accounts grow smaller and smaller.
The economic “experts” are trying to assure that this is just “temporary” inflation, a mere speed bump that we’ll get through quickly. We’ve been told that this is just the effects of the bounceback from COVID lockdowns, the actions of a recovering economy, and that by the end of the year we should be back to normal.
Of course, that’s what many of us thought about COVID last March, that the pandemic couldn’t possibly last past the end of the year. Yet here we are in mid-2021 with many governors only now reluctantly giving up the restrictions they imposed over the last year. And in many other countries people aren’t even that lucky yet. So we can certainly be forgiven for thinking that temporary inflation might last just a little bit longer than the experts are predicting.
The question you as an investor have to ask yourself now is how protected your investments are against high inflation rates. An average annual 5% investment return would have been considered great for many investors post-2008, with investment opportunities few and far between for many people. Now with higher inflation, real investment returns are threatened and many investors, particularly those nearing retirement, are facing the real possibility that their investment returns could turn negative. That’s not what you want to see when you’re reliant on your retirement savings for survival.
What kind of financial position are you in? Are you able to ride the wave of temporary inflation, even if it lasts for years? Or do you need to start thinking about alternative investments such as precious metals to safeguard your wealth?
How Serious Does the Government Treat Inflation?
If you think that the government is at all serious about combating inflation, you might be in for a surprise. Aside from most policymakers thinking that inflation is only temporary, some of them even think that inflation is beneficial to society. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a former Fed Chairman, believes that inflation is actually helpful. Just how that’s so, she didn’t bother explaining.
Perhaps Yellen, like many other economists today, believes that more money equals more wealth. But that’s a dangerous fallacy to believe in, and one which can lead to more monetary inflation.
Washington policymakers love inflation because it boosts household wealth, the so-called wealth effect. That’s because inflation pushes housing prices up, and houses are the primary source of wealth for most American households. The higher housing prices grow, the more household wealth most Americans have.
That in turn means they’re more tempted to take out home equity loans, using their houses as piggy banks. And the more home equity loans they take out, the more money they spend. Since the Fed sees consumer spending as the main driver of the economy, it tries to boost consumption as much as it can.
But at some point there’s only so much consuming that can be done. Households can’t consume infinitely, as they either run out of money or run out of things to buy. The Fed has responded by pumping more money into the financial system in an attempt to keep consumers spending, and the result has been rising prices.
How High Can Inflation Get?
There’s a very real risk that 5% inflation may not be the worst we’ve seen yet. While no one wants to see double-digit inflation, the possibility of that occurring is all too likely.
Remember that the M1 money supply increased 70% in 2020 and M2 increased 25%. Economic production hasn’t increased that much, with shortages of materials and labor keeping production from recovering. So we could very well see significantly higher than 5% inflation before this is all over.
That of course is assuming that the Fed will cease its monetary creation, which doesn’t appear certain at all. For all the talk of the Fed supposedly “tapering” its asset purchases, in its latest FOMC meeting the Fed continued its commitment to purchase at least $80 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion in agency mortgage-backed securities per month, for a roughly $1.5 trillion annualized increase in its balance sheet.
That isn’t the action you would expect from a central bank looking to combat inflation, and it isn’t a sign that we’re going to see inflation slow down anytime soon. Even if the Fed does begin to taper, something that Wall Street is worried about, it wouldn’t actually be a tightening of monetary policy, merely a slightly less loose monetary policy than the ultra-loose policy we’re seeing today.
What Does This Mean for You?
What this means for you as an investor is that inflation is something you’re going to have to start worrying about and caring about. With over a decade of 2% or lower official inflation, most investors didn’t care about inflation because they never expected it to rise anywhere close enough to really threaten their investment returns. With 5% inflation and the potential for even higher rates in the future, that is changing.
The big fear that many people have is that we could be on the verge of entering another decade like the 1970s, where stagflation wreaked havoc. A weak economy, high inflation, and high unemployment combined to make the 1970s a decade that most investors would rather have forgotten about. Except for precious metals investors, that is.
Yes, despite the poor performance of stocks through the decade, high unemployment, gas shortages and numerous other economic difficulties, there were still some bright spots. Gold and silver shone bright, as they averaged annualized gains of over 30% over the course of the decade.
It’s not unusual for gold and silver to perform that well in times of crisis. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, gold and silver also performed well, as gold nearly tripled in price while silver more than quintupled. That’s why many investors are betting that gold and silver will see significant price increases in the coming years as inflation rises and the economy weakens.
If you were planning on moving your retirement savings to low-yield investments, money market investments, or cash, rising inflation could take a significant chunk of your purchasing power each year. You could end up with much less money in retirement than you had expected. In a worst case scenario you could even run out of money in retirement.
Thankfully, protecting your retirement savings with gold and silver can be done simply. With a precious metals IRA, you can invest in physical precious metals like gold and silver while still maintaining the same tax benefits as your existing tax advantaged retirement accounts such as an IRA, 401(k), TSP, or similar account. You can even fund a gold IRA or silver IRA by rolling over or transferring funds from your existing retirement accounts, without having to pay extra taxes. And at the end of the day, you can rest easy knowing that your assets are protected with physical gold or silver bars or coins.
Don’t let inflation eat away at your wealth before you make the decision to protect your savings. Contact the experts at Goldco today to learn more about how gold and silver can safeguard your dreams of a comfortable retirement.