Inflation vs. Deflation: The Battle Rages On

Inflation vs. Deflation: The Battle Rages On

The battle between inflation and deflation continues to rage on, with deflation mounting a very impressive counterattack. Check out this chart of last Thursday’s single day sector returns, courtesy of Agora:

It’s challenging, to say the least, to make money investing when EVERYTHING in EVERY market is going down. This is the classic deflationary nightmare that triggers harrowing thoughts of the Great Depression, and prompted Ben Bernanke to once quip that the United States had a magical invention called the printing press that could stem any deflationary tide.

Please consider, though, that recessions (and depressions) are not inherently deflationary. Germany’s pre-WWII depression comes to mind as an inflationary mess that ultimately led to the rise of Adolph Hitler.

The playbooks for inflationary and deflationary environments are quite different. In an inflationary environment, you want to avoid many stocks and almost all bonds, in favor of gold, silver, and other tangible commodities. In a deflationary environment, the argument goes that everything goes down in price, so you should just hold cash.

The inflation/deflation battle is one we’ll continue to track closely here. While I do believe the government will print its way out of any potential deflationary scenario, thus giving inflation the nod, the deflation argument is certainly a valid one.

Which contender are you putting YOUR money on? Inflation…or deflation?