tmmonline.nz  |   landlords.co.nz        About Good Returns  |  Advertise  |  Contact Us  |  Terms & Conditions  |  RSS Feeds

NZ's Financial Adviser News Centre

GR Logo
Last Article Uploaded: Monday, November 30th, 11:05AM

Investments

rss
Investment News

It’s inflation Jim but not as we know it

Mint Asset Management’s Head of Investments Anthony Halls takes us down memory lane looking at how inflation has been changing its spots and explains Covid-19 is not the only reason we are in these uncharted interest rate waters.

Friday, November 6th 2020, 7:24AM

by Mint Asset Management

Covid-19 is being blamed for many things; some of which are fair, but others not so much. One such is the current ultra-low interest rates and ramp up in fiscal spending around the world.

It is true that the economic fall-out from the pandemic has prompted central banks to cut rates to near zero (and sub-zero in some cases), and it is also true that fiscal balance sheets around the world are being put to (more) work for the same reason.

However, had we had an economic down turn for any other reason (which is quite probable after a decade of growth since the GFC), the same policy decisions and tools would have been applied – perhaps in differing speeds and quantities, but the same nonetheless. Hence, this article is not about Covid-19 or the economic fallout therefrom.

This article discusses the changing drivers of inflation, and how it hasn’t died – it is just showing up in different places.

For decades, liberal (or free market) economics has held sway throughout the developed world. There has been distinction and separation of the fiscal authority from the monetary authority.

Fiscal management has remained in the purview of elected governments and the Treasury or Finance Ministry or Exchequer. Monetary policy has been exercised by (relatively) independent central banks executing under specific mandates from their respective governments.

These mandates have typically held (low) inflation targeting as their centrepiece, often supplemented with economic or employment targets as well.

This is still true today. Our own Reserve Bank of New Zealand has an objective of maintaining a stable general level of prices over the medium term and supporting maximum sustainable employment. The stable prices component is interpreted as maintaining the Consumer Price Index (CPI) near 2% and between 1% and 3% p.a. over the medium term.

Independence of central banks and inflation targeting stems from the high inflation era during the 1970s; which itself came after a period of profligate public spending dominance of most nations GDP. The inflation goals were set when inflation was very high – i.e. inflation targeting used to be a euphemism for getting inflation down.

Well, inflation (as measured by the CPI) is down, and has been for some time; and not just due to the efforts of our friendly neighbourhood central bankers either. Significant disinflationary forces have been at work well beyond monetary policy. Globalisation of trade and ever-lowering trade barriers has seen manufacturing shift and concentrate around the world to the lowest cost place of activity. The technology revolution as well has seen productivity gains and ever-lowering costs across most activities in the economy.

We are now in the situation where global central banks are trying to stimulate inflation. The US Federal Reserve has recently changed its inflation stance from targeting 2% to targeting 2% on average. A nuance, but an important one – from the Feds perspective, ultra-low interest rates will stay in place until inflation moves above 2% and is expected to remain durably above 2%.

As well, central bankers are calling for the fiscal purse strings to be loosened. Music to a politician’s ears one would think; being asked by the dry old (sorry Adrian) central bankers to get out and spend a bit. This is a natural evolution though of the ‘other’ part of the central bankers mandate – the economic part (or employment part in our case).

That side of central banker’s mandates has meant that monetary policy has been the primary tool in play whenever the global economy has threatened a wobble.

While we had positive interest rates we could maintain fiscal prudence (although not everyone around the world did) and leave it to the central bank to cut rates to stimulate the economy whenever a recession threatened.

In effect, instead of taking the pain and allowing economies to self-correct (as pure free market economics prescribes) policy makers have persistently kicked the can down the road to cushion the blow, by cutting rates repeatedly. To be clear, allowing free market economies unbridled rein is both very painful and cruel – for those readers who, like me, have more eyebrows than hair the Rogernomics era in NZ in the 1980s was very difficult economic medicine to swallow.

This can-kicking behaviour though, alongside a falling CPI, has the left the world with very low interest rates just when we needed to cut them again. Hence, the call for fiscal spending – with no cutting room left for interest rates and the private sector not propping the economy up, the world governments become the spenders of last resort (let’s hope we can avoid this becoming a habit).

So, inflation had three head winds – a policy framework designed to contain fiscal spending and push the CPI down, trade globalisation and the technology revolution. With central bankers trying to stimulate inflation and world governments being encouraged to spend, the policy headwind has reversed.

Trade globalisation was already under pressure before Covid-19. The so-called trade wars between the USA and China were an expression of geopolitical nationalism. The Covid-19 shock will likely exacerbate the trend back towards nationalism or regionalism (economic shocks usually do) if nothing else because nations opening the fiscal purse will want to encourage their own economies directly. As economic activity shifts to a higher government spend, that spend will be locally targeted not globally.

That headwind too has reversed.

This leaves the technology revolution as the prevailing head wind for inflation. I’m too old to be a techy and I’m not going to call the end of that phenomenon, and it should mean that inflation doesn’t get underway too quickly. The current economic downturn will also mean that inflation won’t show up in the CPI for some time.

But, with fiscal spending on the rise, globalisation on the wane, and central bankers wanting to achieve their mandates there is a reasonable chance that inflation rides again. Arguably, we are already seeing it – just not in the CPI. An outcome of high liquidity caused by ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing is that asset prices are rising without any particular productivity or value-add to cause the higher price… its inflation Jim but not as we know it.

Mint Asset Management is an independent investment management business based in Auckland, New Zealand. Mint Asset Management is the issuer of the Mint Asset Management Funds. Download a copy of the product disclosure statement here https://mintasset.co.nz/assets/PDS-SIPO/Mint-Product-Disclosure-Statement- 2020.pdf

Tags: Fixed interest inflation Mint Asset Management

« a2 Milk – growth stocks and downgrades don’t mix wellElections, Covid waves come to the fore »

Special Offers

Comments from our readers

No comments yet

Sign In to add your comment

 

print

Printable version  

print

Email to a friend

Good Returns Investment Centre is brought to you by:

Subscribe Now

Keep up to date with the latest investment news
Subscribe to our newsletter today

Edison Investment Research
  • Murray Income Trust
    26 November 2020
    Quality focus continues to deliver rising income
    Murray Income Trust’s (MUT) recent combination with Perpetual Income and Growth Investment Trust (PLI) has doubled the trust’s assets under...
  • The Merchants Trust
    26 November 2020
    Distinguished history of dividend growth
    The Merchants Trust (MRCH) has been managed by Simon Gergel at Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) since 2006. He is continuing to find interesting opportunities...
  • Aberdeen Asian Income Fund
    24 November 2020
    Benefiting from focus on quality and income
    Aberdeen Asian Income Fund (AAIF) has recovered well from the widespread market sell-off driven by the coronavirus pandemic, although its focus on quality...
© 2020 Edison Investment Research.

View more research papers »

Today's Best Bank Rates
Heartland Bank 0.75  
Heartland Bank 0.75  
Rabobank 0.75  
Based on a $50,000 deposit
More Rates »
Cash PIE Rates

Cash Funds

Institution Rate 33% 39%
ANZ 0.10    0.10    0.11
ASB Bank 0.05    0.41    0.42
ASB Bank 0.05    0.59    0.56
ASB Bank 0.05    0.61    0.64
ASB Bank 0.08    0.66    0.69
ASB Bank 0.08    0.72    0.75
BNZ 0.10    0.10    0.10
Heartland Bank 1.00    2.59    2.70
Kiwibank 0.05    -    -
Kiwibank 0.50    -    -
Nelson Building Society -    -    -
SBS Bank -    -    -
TSB Bank 0.25    0.25    0.26
Westpac 0.35    0.36    0.38
Westpac 0.05    0.05    0.05
Westpac 0.35    0.36    0.38

Term Funds

Institution Rate 33% 39%
ANZ Term Fund - 90 days 0.35    0.36    0.37
ANZ Term fund - 12 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
ANZ Term Fund - 120 days 0.45    0.46    0.48
ANZ Term fund - 6 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
ANZ Term Fund - 150 days 0.55    0.56    0.59
ANZ Term Fund - 9 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
ANZ Term Fund - 18 months 0.90    0.92    0.96
ANZ Term Fund - 2 years 0.90    0.92    0.96
ANZ Term Fund - 5 years 0.90    0.92    0.96
ASB Bank Term Fund - 90 days 0.35    0.36    0.37
ASB Bank Term Fund - 6 months 0.80    0.82    0.85
ASB Bank Term Fund - 12 months 0.75    0.76    0.79
ASB Bank Term Fund - 18 months 0.80    0.82    0.85
ASB Bank Term Fund - 2 years 0.80    0.82    0.85
ASB Bank Term Fund - 5 years 1.00    1.02    1.07
ASB Bank Term Fund - 9 months 0.75    0.76    0.79
BNZ Term PIE - 120 days 0.55    0.56    0.59
BNZ Term PIE - 150 days 0.55    0.56    0.59
BNZ Term PIE - 5 years 0.90    0.91    0.95
BNZ Term PIE - 2 years 0.85    0.87    0.91
BNZ Term PIE - 18 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
BNZ Term PIE - 12 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
BNZ Term PIE - 9 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
BNZ Term PIE - 6 months 0.85    0.87    0.91
BNZ Term PIE - 90 days 0.40    0.41    0.42
Co-operative Bank PIE Term Fund - 6 months -    -    -
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 12 months 1.05    1.08    1.12
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 6 months 1.10    1.13    1.18
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 9 months 1.05    1.08    1.12
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 18 months 1.05    1.08    1.12
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 2 years 1.30    1.33    1.39
Heartland Bank Term Deposit PIE - 5 years 1.05    1.08    1.12
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 90 days 0.40    0.41    0.42
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 6 months 0.90    0.91    0.95
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 12 months 0.90    0.91    0.95
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 150 days 0.60    0.61    0.64
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 120 days 0.50    0.51    0.53
Kiwibank Term Deposit Fund - 9 months 0.90    0.91    0.95
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 150 days 0.55    0.56    0.59
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 120 days 0.45    0.46    0.47
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 18 months 0.80    0.81    0.84
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 12 months 0.80    0.81    0.84
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 6 months 0.80    0.81    0.84
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 9 months 0.80    0.81    0.84
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 90 days 0.35    0.36    0.37
Westpac Term PIE Fund - 2 years 0.85    0.87    0.91
About Us  |  Advertise  |  Contact Us  |  Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  RSS Feeds  |  Letters  |  Archive  |  Toolbox
 
Site by Web Developer and eyelovedesign.com