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Everything Screams Inflation: What Does it Mean For Your Portfolio? Ep #175

Everything Screams Inflation: What Does it Mean For Your Portfolio?

A Wall Street article, “Everything Screams Inflation,” was published on May 5th, 2021. The opening line says, “We could be at a generational turning point for finance. Politics, economics, international relations, demography and labor are all shifting to supporting inflation.” Is inflation headed higher? The short-term answer is that it already has. So what does this mean for you and your portfolio? Learn more in this episode of Best in Wealth!

Everything is pointing to inflation. So what does it mean for your portfolio? Hear my thoughts in this episode of Best in Wealth! #wealth #retirement #investing #PersonalFinance #FinancialPlanning #RetirementPlanning #WealthManagement Click To Tweet

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:23] Did you know I’m a movie star?
  • [4:51] Inflation is heading higher
  • [7:55] Is inflation moving higher a negative?
  • [10:54] Adjusting your portfolio during inflation
  • [16:50] Why does any of this matter?
  • [20:31] Build a risk-adjusted portfolio

Inflation is heading higher

Two years ago, the New York Times reported that the Federal Reserve was worried that inflation was too low. It could leave the central bank with less room to maneuver in an economic downturn. But inflation has averaged 2.9% since 1926 and nothing in recent years has come close to 3% (except for 2006 at 3.4% and 2008 at 4.1%). The early ‘70s and ’80s demonstrated the worst inflation periods. The worst was in 1979, where we experienced 13.3% inflation. But is inflation trending higher something to actually worry about?

The answer to that question depends on where you are in the economic food chain. Airlines now have fully booked flights. Restaurants are struggling to hire cooks and waiters. Why would you not expect the cost of airfare and meals to rise? Stock prices for JetBlue and Cheesecake Factory surged over 150% from their lows in Spring 2020.

Do price increases signal a coming wave of inflation? Or a temporary snapback following the economic downturn in 2020? This is THE great debate. Is this a sign for years to come? We do not know. But future inflation is one of many factors that investors must take into account when crafting their initial portfolios.

Why adjusting your portfolio during inflation = market timing

If rising inflation will persist—and do so for a long time—investors may want to hedge against higher inflation. Others might see it as a market timing signal and make changes to their investment portfolio. Remember this: market timers would need a rule that directs exactly when and how to revise current investments. “I’ll know it when I see it” is not a strategy at all. I believe that a rule based on inflation estimates is market timing dressed in different clothes.

A successful effort means you have to somehow guess when to revise your portfolio and when to change it back. Market timers get it wrong over and over again. Remember, current market prices already reflect the concerns—including inflation. Market timing creates a lot of stress when you should just remain disciplined with a strategy.

Why is adjusting your portfolio during inflation the same as market timing? Hear my thoughts in this episode of Best in Wealth! #wealth #retirement #investing #PersonalFinance #FinancialPlanning #RetirementPlanning #WealthManagement Click To Tweet

Is inflation moving higher a negative?

Imagine it is New Year’s Day in 1979. The market produced a positive return in 1978, ending up 6.6%. What is the problem? The return failed to keep pace with inflation for the second year in a row. Inflation in 1978 was 9%. Your crystal ball should inform you that over the next two years you would see back-to-back years of double-digit inflation for the first time since WWI. You would be right. Inflation was 13.3% in 1979—the worst on record. In 1980, inflation was 12.5%.

If you had a crystal ball, you may have gotten out of stocks. In 1974, the inflation-adjusted total return for US stock was -35.05%, among the five worst returns going back to 1926. The only problem? You did not know what stock returns would be in the face of inflation. In the same two-year period that inflation accumulated over 25%, the S&P 500 was up 56%! If you took your money out, you missed out on those returns.

Why does any of this matter?

So much of the recent news regarding inflation is linked to things like government spending and US debt. We cannot minimize the problem. But the expected consequences of these issues are likely already reflected in the stock prices, mutual funds, and 401k’s. There are always concerns. The future is always uncertain. But the willingness to bear uncertainty is what gives you the opportunity for profit. We have to put up with bad news and negative returns. There will always be something to worry about. That is why you must address the uncertainty in your initial portfolio design instead of in emotional responses. Do not risk your future on your emotions.

Why do you need to address uncertainty in the market in your initial portfolio design? I share the “Why” in this episode of Best in Wealth! #wealth #retirement #investing #PersonalFinance #FinancialPlanning #RetirementPlanning #WealthManagement Click To Tweet

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Podcast Disclaimer:

The Best In Wealth Podcast is hosted by Scott Wellens. Scott Wellens is the principal at Fortress Planning Group. Fortress Planning Group is a registered investment advisory firm regulated by the Securities Act of Wisconsin in accordance and compliance with securities laws and regulations. Fortress Planning Group does not render or offer to render personalized investment or tax advice through the Best In Wealth Podcast. The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, investment or legal advice.

About the author, Scott Wellens

Scott Wellens, CFP® is an investment advisor and founder of Fortress Planning Group. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Scott quickly ascended to become a Vice President of North American Sales at a major regional provider of telecommunications infrastructure. While financially successful in this role, Scott searched for ways to pursue his passion related to financial literacy and providing financial freedom for both his own family and others. During his search, Scott became curious about the significant gap he found in the financial services sector: he was unable to find a comprehensive financial planner that maintained a family stewardship lens without being attached to financial products. Scott decided to fill that gap by creating his own planning firm that maintains a strong passion for comprehensive, unbiased wealth planning that is genuinely client-centered.

Scott resides in Menomonee Falls, WI with his family. He is the father of three active and independent daughters who keep him on his toes. Scott is an active community member, serving on the Hamilton Education Foundation Board, serves as a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace facilitator and leads the All Pro Dad’s group at their local elementary school. Scott enjoys spending his free time visiting state parks with his family, reading, and watching the Milwaukee Bucks and the Green Bay Packers win ball games.

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