If you saw the headlines about the latest retail sales figures, you probably noticed adjectives like “hot,” “booming” and “sizzling.” Total retail sales including food services were up 5.9% year-on-year in May.
That’s an impressive number until you factor in inflation. In fact, a decline in the dollar’s purchasing power accounted for nearly half the gains in retail sales.
As expected, the Federal Reserve nudged rates up another .25 basis points on Wednesday. Perhaps more significantly, the Fed took a more hawkish tone than expected, signaling it would likely increase rates two more times this year for a total of four hikes. The central bank had been projecting three 2018 rate increases.
A buildup in inflation pressures was a major reason for the Fed’s more hawkish tone. According to the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped by 2.8% year-over-year in May. The central bankers projected inflation will likely run above their 2% target into the near future. Analysts expect the CPI to hit 2.1% this year and run at that level through 2020.
In his latest podcast, Peter Schiff said higher inflation might be a victory for the Federal Reserve, but it will be a big loss for consumers. In fact, we are heading for a no-growth, high-inflation economy.
Over the last 12 months, the purchasing power of your dollar has dropped at the fastest rate since 2011.
According to the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped by 2.8% year-over-year in May. That follows on the heels of a 2.5% leap year-over-year in April.
In other words, prices are going up. That’s not good news for people who buy stuff.
US productivity numbers for the first quarter of this year were disappointing, to say the least. Analysts expected Q1 productivity to rise by point 0.7%. Instead, it came in at nearly half that, rising by 0.4%. This was only a slight improvement over the 0.3% increase in the final quarter of 2017.
There wasn’t a whole lot of chatter about sluggish productivity in the mainstream financial press, but in his recent podcast, Peter Schiff pointed out that it could have significant ramifications for the economy – and on your pocketbook. If you’re counting on productivity to keep a lid on consumer prices, you have a big problem.
At the moment we are at the turning point towards a gold bull market. The macroeconomic and geopolitical factors support this tendency. One of the things we notice across the bull markets of the past 50 years is that, even in its weakest period of increase, gold gained more than 70%. This record supports our optimism for future developments. From our point of view, stronger inflation tendencies or the abandoning of the rate-hike cycle in the US could trigger an increase in momentum of the gold price. We regard these scenarios as realistic.”
Earlier this week, I shared a story about my wife finding a bag of change in the attic of her grandparent’s old house that turned out to be worth over $2,000. The dimes, quarters and half-dollars in the bag were all minted before 1965. In other words, they were all made primarily of silver. The value of the metal in these so-called junk silver coins is now worth far more than their face value. This demonstrates just how much the Federal Reserve has devalued your money.
One way we measure this devaluation of money is by the inflation rate. Practically speaking, rising inflation simply means we are losing purchasing power. Our dollar buys less and less as time moves on. This puts the squeeze on all of us – even the Tooth Fairy.
The US economy is now technically in the second-longest recovery in history. If it continues another 14 months, it will eclipse the longest recovery, which took place in the 1990s.
As Peter Schiff pointed out in his latest podcast, the Federal Reserve pulled out all the stops in the 1990s to keep the recovery going. That set the stage for the dot-com crash and ultimately the Great Recession.
Now the Fed is doing it again.
Last month, US Global Investors CEO Frank Holmes offered three reasons he thinks the gold might hit $1,500 per ounce this year. His number one reason was rising inflation. In a recent interview on Bloomberg Radio, Holmes reiterated that high inflation looks good for gold in the near future. He also pointed out that whether you look at things from a long-term or short-term perspective, gold had done exactly what it is supposed to within an overall portfolio.
Inflation is low – so we’re told. But this simply isn’t true.
Now, it is true that the consumer price index (CPI) has remained relatively low. But rising prices aren’t in-and-of themselves inflation. In fact, we can have inflation without a corresponding rise in CPI – at least in the short-term. That’s exactly what we’ve had over the last decade. We’ve had rampant inflation, but it hasn’t manifested in broad-based rising prices – yet.