Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Inflation Trade

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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Gold had another record close yesterday, the third one in four days. The near term futures contract closed at $1018.90 and was as high as $1023.30 intraday. The breakout level is $1004 and above. Gold still needs to take out its all-time intraday high of $1033. Silver closed at $17.33 and traded as high as $17.50. The New York Investing meetup mentioned gold was a good buy at $740 and silver in the the $9 to $10 range. We have also discussed in our meeting the ETF's DGP and AGQ that are 100% leveraged and move twice as much up and down as gold and silver do. These highly volatile ETFs are not appropriate for risk-adverse investors. For those who want to broaden their investments to include gold and silver miners , we proposed the ETF GDX. Our favorite gold stock is NovaGold (NG) which was first mentioned in this blog when it was just above $3.

The precious metals are going up for the same reason as global stock markets. Governments throughout the world are pumping massive amounts of liquidity into the financial system. This shows up in stock prices first and in consumer inflation later (it can take many years before the full impact is felt). The statistics indicating economic 'recovery' are usually not adjusted for inflation and what is being touted as economic growth by the mainstream media has a significant component of rising prices to it. This is only the beginning however. In a few years inflation is going to get incredibly ugly. When it becomes apparent that there is no 'real' growth, the stock market rally will fizzle - and the government will print even more money to stimulate the economy. The stock market is currently historically overbought based on some criteria. Over 90% of stocks on the NYSE are trading above their 200 day moving averages. A number in the 70% range is usually enough for a top.

Gold and silver are the ultimate protections against inflation and anyone concerned about inflation should make them the cornerstone of their investing strategy. I will hold as much as 50% of my portfolio in these metals and their miners during their bullish periods. The other two major inflation hedges are energy and agricultural commodities. Oil is seasonally weak in the fall and usually best bought early in the year and sold in the summer (as the New York Investing meetup did with DXO). Its seasonal pattern is almost the exact opposite of gold and silver's. Natural gas is the energy commodity of choice at the moment since it is seasonally strong in the fall. Agricultural commodities are dependent on weather as well as inflation. Good weather during the U.S. summer has driven many of their prices to very low levels. It might be worth taking a look at RJA or DBA (RJA is more diversified) and start putting a little of them away for a non-rainy day.

The other inflation trades include industrial metals and shorting long-term U.S. bonds. The New York Investing meetup mentioned FCX in the winter and Alcoa (AA), UYM and XME in the spring (as well as Harry Winston - HWD). These stocks have already had major rallies. They are partially dependent on inflation and partially dependent on the economy doing well going forward, so they are not the major bargains they once were. The short bond trade did well between December and June (bond prices went down and interest rates went up), but there has been some give back during the summer. TBT is a leveraged ETF that allows the average investor to short long-term bonds. When the economy heats up, interest rates go up. During bouts of inflation interest rates go through the roof. TBT works if either or both take place and it is currently at a reasonable price.

NEXT: Quadruple Witching Today; Market Update

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.


Spodeworld said...

Daryl - Do you expect there to be a pullback in gold before it continues its rise? With so many talking about the sure rise of gold now, it makes me a little nervous.....

Spodeworld said...

Here's an interesting article on gold. I've found this site to give level-headed perspective for quite some time now.