John Hussman: Inflation Is Just Around the Corner

by: John Hussman

Excerpt from the Hussman Funds' Weekly Market Comment (3/23/09):

The reason we're not seeing inflation here and now is that despite a near doubling in the monetary base, we've seen a buildup in goods inventories combined with a surge in safe-haven demand for government liabilities. So investors have absorbed the increased supply of government liabilities without a collapse in their marginal utility. This will not persist indefinitely, so unfortunately, any nascent economic recovery in the next couple of years will be against the headwinds of both Alt-A mortgage defaults (coming to your neighborhood in 2010), and inflationary pressures as soon as safe haven demand for Treasuries eases back even moderately.

Milton Friedman was mostly right about inflation – inflation may be a monetary phenomenon, but only because governments ultimately can't help but monetize huge amounts of spending (as the Fed is doing now). He was entirely right about fiscal discipline – “the burden of government is not measured by how much it taxes, but by how much it spends.”

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