Deflation is dead, who cares…

About inflation. It appears that the deflation discussion of the yesteryears left such strong marks on the politicians, central bankers and market participants that nobody cares about the current inflation trends. The discussion moved comfortably from “we want to fight deflation” to “we have a very moderate core inflation so….”. Core inflation shall be the topic of one of the upcoming deliberations.

Now every normal consumer and business person does understand inflation as rising prices. Obviously rising prices are here and everyone will be able to easily show that from butter to oil any prices we can think about increased. The younger may rather point to the stellar price increases of the new iPhone.

Now central bankers appear to be very content with the running rate of consumer inflation as long as the core inflation is not rising. Just by the way, the vast majority of the consumer will not really understand the concept of the core inflation. The prices which touch our daily life are obviously rising.

Now even conservative central banks of Norway and Sweden abandoned their long standing conservative stand on interest rates and inflation. Inflation does not matter. It now moves into the realm of aberration and will come back soon enough to some kind of “normalised” level. Even if not we clearly can rely on past experience. Central banks can use their historically proven ability to quash inflation by using a wide arsenal of monetary instruments.

Inflation trend in USA, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Norway

CPI 2018-09-25

Source: Bloomberg

10 year government bond yields (generic) in USA, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Norway

10 Year yields 2018-09-25

Source: Bloomberg

Federal Reserve appears to be exception as the sanity of the market maintained its focus on inflation and normal relationship between long-term interest rates and inflation. Apart from short-term blips the real rates stayed positive.

Real interest rates (CPI minus 10 year government bond yields (generic)) in USA, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Norway

Real rates 2018-09-25

Source: Bloomberg

Once the normalisation of real interest rates in Europe and Japan will begin, the pain could become extraordinary. In some respects the 10 year interest rates would need to rise by 140 BP in the case of Germany or even by 300BP plus in case of Norway. The time will tell how those countries can stomach such major interest rate increases. So far the markets enjoy the ride and destruction of value for any bond investor in Europe and Japan.