Reader Tom pointed to an article by Bill Gross of PIMCO titled “Hmmmm?” It addresses the current investment outlook with a main focus on U.S. inflation and the way it’s calculated. It’s an interesting read, but his last two paragraphs sum it up best:
What are the investment ramifications? With global headline inflation now at 7% there is a need for new global investment solutions, a role that PIMCO is more than willing (and able) to provide. In this role we would suggest: 1) Treasury bonds are obviously not to be favored because of their negative (unreal) real yields. 2) U.S. TIPS, while affording headline CPI protection, risk the delusion of an artificially low inflation number as well. 3) On the other hand, commodity-based assets as well as foreign equities whose P/Es are better grounded with local CPI and nominal bond yield comparisons should be excellent candidates. 4) These assets should in turn be denominated in currencies that demonstrate authentic real growth and inflation rates, that while high, at least are credible. 5) Developing, BRIC-like economies are obvious choices for investment dollars.
Investment success depends on an ability to anticipate the herd, ride with it for a substantial period of time, and then begin to reorient portfolios for a changing world. Today’s world, including its inflation rate, is changing. Being fooled some of the time is no sin, but being fooled all of the time is intolerable. Join me in lobbying for change in U.S. leadership, the attitude of its citizenry, and (to the point of this Outlook) the market’s assumption of low relative U.S. inflation in comparison to our global competitors.
I would not call it anticipating the herd, but looking for a trend in place that can be followed and tracked until it ends. When it does, it’s time to jump ship and look for other opportunities. In this changing world, nothing lasts forever and only those who are able to go with flow, are flexible and make portfolio adjustments to reflect the current market place will be the long-term winners.