Inflation and Interest Rate News


Inflation and interest rates—two things we rarely talk about when the market is going smoothly. Just this week, the Federal Reserve made some stark moves surrounding interest rates with the hope of cooling down the rampant inflation we’re experiencing. But what exactly is causing all this inflation and are interest rates really going to change anything?

Welcome to a bonus “On The Market” update from your favorite data deli nerd, Dave Meyer, who serves you fresh salami and cheese similes and turkey and mayo metaphors so you can know the housing market a bit better. This time, we’re talking about how inflation and interest rates rises could affect the housing market, what’s behind all the madness, and what it means for you, the local homebuyer or real estate investor.

The recent updates from the Fed are BIG news, but they shouldn’t worry you too much if you know the reasons behind their decisions. Staying ahead of the inflation curve can help put you in a position to build wealth, even when everyone else thinks the sky is falling.

Dave:
Hi, everyone and welcome to On The Market. I’m your host, Dave Meyer. This past week has been a really whirlwind and pretty important week for the economy. And as such, we have decided to do our first ever bonus episode where we’re going to be talking about the news that took place over the last couple of days. We’ll go into some history to provide some context about how we actually got here and, of course, we’ll talk about what you as an investor should be thinking about over the next couple of weeks and months as all of the crazy information that we’re getting about inflation and the economy starts to unfold. The focus of today’s episode is really going to be about inflation.
If you’ve been paying attention last Friday, the CPI data, the consumer price index, which is one of the most common measurements of inflation came out for May. And what we saw was much higher than most economists expected. We all know inflation is high, but this was way higher than even most people were thinking it would be. So, it’s really important for us to understand what this means and what is going on. So, today, we are going to talk about what this inflation report that came out on Friday and set off this cascade of events over the last couple of days, what it actually showed. We’re going to go into a background of what inflation even is and how we got here. We’ll talk about what the Fed is doing in response to this reflation and, of course, what might happen next.
Okay, so what actually happened this week? Last Friday, the consumer price index came out and showed that inflation, measured on a year-over-year basis, which basically means comparing May of 2022 to May of 2021, went up 8.6%. That is 8.6% year-over-year, which is an increase from April which was 8.3%. And so, that is an increase and, of course, that is concerning. But to me, the biggest news here was the month-over-month data. From April 2022 to May of 2022, prices across the United States went up 1%. And I know 1% does not sound like a lot, but 1% in just a month is a huge number. This is one of the largest monthly increases we’ve seen. Back in March, it was actually 1.2%, but a lot of that was fueled by the invasion of Ukraine.
And having this 1% month-over-month in May was a big, big shock. Most economists were expecting it to be about 0.7% which would have been about the average that we’ve seen over the last six months. But again, it was higher than we expected and it actually showed that it was accelerating. The month-over-month data in April was 0.3%, so having it go up to 1% was really big news. The other detail about the report that, I know not everyone looks at the details of the reports and looks at every single data piece, I do which is why I’m here talking to you about it, but what really stuck out to me is that prices in every single category rose. In most of the last couple months, there have been a few categories at least, while even though inflation was going up, pretty much across the board it was going up, but there were some categories of expenses that were going down.
New cars were starting to go down, some sectors of energy like electricity after spiking in March started to retract a little bit in April. But in May, every single category that is tracked by the consumer price index went up. And so, this was pretty shocking, right? It was much higher than we were expecting. Most economists believed, at least at the beginning of the year and even up until a couple of weeks ago, that inflation was going to peak soon. That doesn’t mean prices were going to go down, that doesn’t mean inflation was going to stop, but it means that we’re going to see the pace of inflation, the pace at which prices were going up at least start to slow. They would go up still, but they would go up slower. Instead, we saw them go up faster, which is why so much has happened in the economy and the stock market and everything else over the last couple weeks.
So, that’s just some analysis. Hopefully, that helps you understand what happened and why it’s sent a shock through a lot of the financial system over the last couple days is because we’re expecting it to be down and it was up. So, to understand what this all means, I think it’s helpful to just go back to the beginning and talk about what inflation even is, what contributes to inflation. Inflation in its simplest terms is the dollar losing its spending power. Basically, if you want to buy something, you’re going to have to spend more money to buy the same exact thing. Another way I like to look at this or that I’ve heard it described that I think makes a lot of sense is too much money chasing too few goods, right? So, there is a lot of money floating around in the economy, there’s not enough stuff to buy and that sends up prices.
So, inflation is a bad thing, right? We all know that inflation is bad, but why? Basically, it stretches people’s budget, right? If you have to spend more money to buy the same exact thing, you’re going to have less money for disposable income, or to pay rent, or to invest in a business at the end of the day because you’re using more of your income on the everyday expenses like gas, and food, and all the other stuff that you need. So, in addition to stretching budgets, it also eats away at your savings. If for example you had $10,000 saved up, which is a lot of money so congratulations, and over the last year you had 8.6% inflation, that money in terms of spending power is now worth only about $9,140 because inflation has reduced it. So, that sucks, right? You had all this money saved up and now it is worth less. So, that’s another reason inflation is bad.
And generally, it’s just damaging to society, right? It causes people to lose faith in the U.S. dollar, which is a problem for import, exports. It’s just a problem for our country in general. And so, inflation has to be brought under control. It is a huge problem and it is worth noting that it usually, disproportionately impacts people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Because people who don’t have a lot of excess or disposable income when gas prices rise or when food prices rise, they don’t have as much cushion with which to make ends meet and this really impacts them a lot. Now, before we get on, go and talk about how we got here in the first place, I think it’s important to mention that a little bit of inflation is actually kind of good. The Fed targets, the Federal Reserve targets inflation at about 2%.
I know that’s confusing because I just said inflation was bad, but a little bit of inflation actually stimulates the economy. Think about it, right? If you thought prices were going to stay flat or go down, you might not choose to buy a car right now or make some big purchase. You would wait until prices might go down. But if there’s 2% inflation, which is not so much that it’s causing all of the negative impacts that I was just talking about, it’s incentivizes you to make a purchase. If you were going to buy a car and you knew that a year from now it was going to be 2% more expensive, maybe you just buy the car now and save yourself the 2%. So, that is why a little bit of inflation, first of all, it’s natural, it happens in a capitalist economy, but it is also generally seen as a positive thing for a little bit of inflation.
But obviously, above 2%, the area that we’re in, 8.5% right now is crazy. That’s not what we want, it’s way too much. But I just want to make sure that you understand that a lot of inflation’s bad, little inflation okay and kind of good. Let’s turn our attention to how we even got here and why inflation is so high right now. Like I said, one definition, the one I really like to use for inflation is too much money chasing too few goods. Or if you want to sort of respin that sentence into more traditional economic parlance, you would say it is too much demand and not enough supply, right? Everything in economics comes down to supply and demand. And when you have inflation, it is pretty much always caused by too much demand. People want a lot of stuff and not enough supply, there’s not enough stuff to buy, and that always pushes up prices.
So, let’s look at supply and demand as it exists today or at least over the last couple of months. So demand is up, in my opinion, for two reasons. The first is pent-up demand, right? We all were just locked down for two, two and a half years, didn’t get to spend money on a lot of the things that we wanted to like travel, or going out to restaurants, or bars, or the movie theater or whatever, right? And now that the economy has opened up, people want to do stuff and they want to go out and spend. And so, they’re doing that. They’re going to the movies. I don’t know if you about you, but if you try and get a reservation, you try and go out to dinner without a reservation in a major city, it’s super difficult. People are out and about. And that is natural, in my opinion, there is a lot of demand.
There’s also another major force pushing up demand, which in my opinion comes from increased monetary supply. And I know that sounds pretty wonky, but if you’ve heard that inflation is usually caused by the printing of money or more money entering an economy, that’s what I’m talking about here. Over the last several years, the Federal Reserve and Congress has introduced a lot of new money into the economy. This has come in the form of stimulus checks and actually printed cash. It’s also come in the form of the Federal Reserve buying mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasuries and increasing their balance sheet. That adds more monetary supply to the system.
And interest rates are super low, which means that banks are more willing to lend out the money that they have. And so, rather than money sitting in savings account earning interest, it’s getting lent out and circulating around the economy. And when all this money is circulating around the economy, people spend more, right? If it’s super easy to get a loan at a low rate, for example, maybe you will buy a car, maybe you’ll buy a house. Maybe if you’re a business, you’re willing to hire new people, expand it to new territory, buy some new equipment, right? There’s so much money out there that you’re willing to pay more and that drives up prices, right? That means demand is higher because people just have money, right?
If you are usually willing to, let’s say you had $100 to your name and you wanted to go buy something, a sandwich, and you’re willing to spend 10% of your net income on a sandwich, you’d pay $10 for that sandwich. But let’s just say there’s so much money flying around the economy all of a sudden that your net worth is sort of goes up to about $120. And now, at 10% of your budget, you’re now willing to spend 12% on that sandwich. And that’s just a simple, silly example of how increased monetary supply could drive up prices. Now, those are some ways where demand is going up. The other side of this, of course, is supply. And we’ve all heard that the supply chain is damaged and is where there’s not enough goods. I think most, every one of us has experienced this in some way, whether it’s food or chips for a car or whatever it is, we all know that COVID really damaged the supply chain.
Now, in addition to COVID, the Russia-Ukraine conflict also really contributed to the supply chain issues. Russia has been almost completely excluded from the global economy. They are big exporters of things like fertilizer and food and all sorts of other things that are basically just getting pulled out of the global supply chain. And so, that just reduces supply even more. They’ve also seized a lot of Ukrainian assets and supply, and that’s getting removed from the global economy as well. And so, that’s creating supply issues. And third, we have China’s COVID policies. They’re pursuing this no, zero-COVID policy which is leading them to lockdown, huge cities. And that is reducing manufacturing. It means a lot of the materials and goods that are produced in China and then shipped over to the United States are not getting here, further exacerbating the supply chain issues.
So, we’re sort of in this perfect storm for inflation. Remember I said that it is too much demand and not enough supply. We just talked about why demand is super high right now. There’s pent-up demand, there’s increased monetary supply. At the same time, we also have reductions in supply due to COVID and the Russian-Ukraine. This is the perfect storm for inflation. And now, a lot of different economists, a lot of different people have different opinions about what’s really contributing to inflation. Some people think it’s a lot of monetary supply and that other people think it’s mostly because of the supply chain. I don’t personally do my own statistical analysis on this so I can’t say who’s right. But I think whatever it is, inflation is super high from some mixture of these conditions.
And I think if anyone says it’s only because of increased monetary supply or it’s only from supply chains issues, that’s not true. It is a mixture of these things. How much of it is one factor versus the other? I don’t know, but it is definitely a mixture and convergence of all of these economic forces that are causing this high inflation. Now, how do we fix inflation, right? So, now we’ve talked about what it is, what’s happening, how we got here, how does inflation get fixed? Well, if inflation is too much demand and not enough supply, you have to level one of those things out. So, on the supply side, you could have more goods. And in a normal time, that’s what happens, right? If demand goes up and people want to spend normally, manufacturers just increase their output to the point where they can meet that demand. But right now, that can’t happen because of all the constraints on the supply chain that we are already talking about.
Now, when a lot of economists said that they were expecting inflation to peak at some point in 2022, it’s I believe mostly because they thought the supply chain issues would get solved. Right? The demand side is a little more complicated, but most people were thinking, “Okay, the economy is going to open back up. Almost every economy in the world has opened back up.” China is still having some lockdowns, but with that, the thinking was supply chain would sort itself out. But unfortunately, right when it was starting to just, things were starting to get better, Russia invaded Ukraine and cause all of these additional supply chain issues. And so, we’re not seeing that get better.
The other way you could do it is of course lowering demand. And that is really where the Fed is operating. If you’ve been paying attention over last week, the Fed just announced a huge interest rate hike, 75 basis points, which is basically, it is the largest single interest rate hike since 1994. And so, they’re really going after this. And the way, the reason they’re doing this is to try and lower demand. I know they’re not going to say that, that’s not exactly what’s trying to happen, but they’re going to try and lower the monetary supply. By increasing interest rates, that means it is less enticing for people and for businesses to borrow money. So, rather than borrowing money for a bank at a 3% interest rate so that you can build a new manufacturing plan or buy some new equipment, you’re not going to do that because it’s more expensive and it is not as attractive as a proposition.
Or in the consumer side, maybe you don’t buy a car, right, because interest rates are high, so you hold onto your car a little bit more. This reduction in monetary supply should lower demand. Generally, this works. It is kind of proven that rising interest rates reduces monetary supply and it can calm that inflation. The thing is that it takes time. And so, we’ve seen that the Fed is trying to do this slowly. They announced back in, I mean the end of 2021, I can’t remember exactly, that they were going to start reducing their purchases and mortgage-backed securities and treasuries, that they were going to raise interest rates. And they signaled this for a long time because they didn’t want the stock market to overreact. They didn’t want businesses to freak out and think like, “Oh my God, interest rates are going up so quickly. We got to lay people off.”
They were trying to engineer what they’ve called the soft landing. And the idea here is that they could raise what they wanted to do. What they want to do is raise interest rates slowly or at the right pace, let’s say not slowly but at the right pace, to reduce demand and inflation but not increase unemployment and not send the country into a recession. And so, for let’s say the last nine months, that’s basically what the Fed has been trying to do. But like I said at the top of the show, we just saw this inflation print and it just doesn’t look like it’s working. And there’s a lot of reasons for that, right? I just said that increased monetary supply is not the only reason why inflation is high, but it is kind of the only thing that the Fed can target. So, they’re not fixing supply chain issues by raising interest rates.
But overall, I do think, this is just my opinion, I do think what the Fed is doing is the right thing. They’re trying to control inflation and that needs to happen because inflation can really spiral out of control. Inflation is tricky to bring down and it’s important to nip it in the bud before it gets to hyperinflation to the point where we have this spiral and the dollar is really considerably getting devalued even worse than it is right now. So, that’s why the Fed yesterday came out and said, or that when by the time this show comes out it’ll be two days ago, this is coming out on Friday, on Wednesday, they said that they raised it 75 basis points, really big increase to try and stem inflation. And this is really meaningful for a few reasons.
And it’s not like this was totally unexpected. The Fed has been raising interest rates, they’ve said they’re being in raised interest rates. But it seems less and less likely, at least to me, that the Fed is even really acknowledging that this soft landing that they’ve been trying to engineer is even possible. They’re going to keep trying to do it but it looks increasingly difficult. If they’re raising interest rates at this rate, it seems very likely that we are going to go into a recession. They didn’t say that in their guidance, they still are projecting the economy to grow. But they are saying that employment is likely to go up. They did acknowledge that. So, that to me doesn’t really sound like a soft landing. And I think a lot of things have to go right even for their projections of unemployment to hit what they are.
And so, this increased hawkishness, this increased aggressiveness by the Fed to raise interest rates so much and get inflation under control is a major reason why the third thing that happened this past week where stocks and cryptocurrency are just tanking happened. It’s because there’s all this uncertainty and now, there’s a general feeling that a recession is very likely, that unemployment is likely going to go up and this could impact asset prices, right? So, stocks are valued based on future earnings. But if the dollar is following the value of those future earnings, if the dollar value is falling because of inflation, the value of those future earnings is reduced. People as such, investors who invest in the stock market, are basically trying to figure out what stocks are worth right now.
They were trading at super high P/E ratios which is just a way of valuing stock based on the price versus their earnings. And it was extremely high. It was about 37 for the S&P 500 about a year ago. It’s down to about 22, which I’m not a stock market expert, from my understanding is still above the historical average which is about 18% or 19%. And so, what we’re seeing is the stock market returned to much more normal valuation levels and investors are just generally seem like they want to get out of more speculative, risky assets. And so, that’s why we’re seeing, in my opinion, the stock market tank particularly hard in growth, what’s known as growth stocks, which are more based on future earnings and growth potential and less on current day revenue and earnings.
And again, that’s why we’re also probably seeing cryptocurrency take such a big beating, because it doesn’t actually produce any value. I know people say, “In the future, that it is going to produce value.” I invest in crypto and I do think that it’s a really interesting thing, but right now it’s not really used, it’s not producing value right now. And so, people fearing a recession, fearing higher unemployment, want to get their money either into raising cash or into less speculative stocks like energy stocks for example. And so, that to me is why the market has been tanking. We’re now in bear market territory. But to me, it’s really a reaction to inflation. Inflation went up, we saw that last Friday. The Fed raised rates super high.
And the stock market actually tanked even before Fed raised rates because they all know what’s going on. They knew the Fed was going to basically go hard after interest rates and to the point where a recession is increasingly likely. I saw some data from Bloomberg that said that a recession by the end of 2023 is now about 75% probability. So, everyone’s seeing the same data, right, these sophisticated investors, that’s what they’re seeing and that’s what they’re worried about. So, hopefully, that helps you understand what has gone on in this kind of confusing week. And let’s just talk a little bit about what could happen next. And of course, no one knows for sure. That’s the one thing we do know, is that no one knows for sure.
What I do think is a pretty safe bet is the Fed is going to keep raising rates aggressively. I think there’s a possibility we’ll see another 75 basis point hike at their next meeting. They are saying that interest rates for the Fed or a funds rate is going to hit about 3 3/8 by the end of the year. Right now, it’s only about 1.75. So, we’re going to see, seeing steep interest rates increases through the rest of the year. And I do believe that we will see a peak of inflation by the end of the year as supply-side issues start to moderate. And I know I said that the Russian invasion screwed that up and it did, but I think the world adapts. And over the next couple months as economies open up, I do think China’s manufacturing will open up, the world will adjust to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Hopefully, it doesn’t get any worse. That could happen but hopefully it doesn’t.
And if so, I do think we will see inflation peak. I still don’t think we’re getting down anywhere close to the 2% target by the end of the year, but hopefully we’ll start to see it in the 5%, 6% year-over-year mark instead of 8%, 9%, or maybe even 10%. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get worse, it might get worse before it gets better. But I do think by the end of 2022, we’ll start to see it start to come down. So, I’m not a stock expert but to me, the stock market is going to remain volatile. I’m sure people can make money into that, but I do think it’s going to be volatile. And frankly, I just think we’re going to see inflation for the foreseeable future.
So, to me, I think there are some ways to protect yourself. And again, I’m sure there are people who are more knowledgeable about the stock market than I am who could tell you how to pick stocks that are inflation resistant. But to me, I think, yeah I’m biased, but rental property investing is generally considered not just by people who are investors, real estate investors like me, to be one of if not the best hedges against inflation. And I should say that doing nothing right now is kind of risky because you are losing that spending power. Of course, buying at the top, of a peak of a market has risks too, but both are risky. So, you have to decide for yourself what’s right for you.
But personally, I continue to look for specifically rental property investing because I think that long-term buy and hold rental property investing offers the best hedge against inflation, in my opinion, for three primary reasons. I’m just going to go through this quickly, I’ve talked about this in other YouTube videos that you can check out. But I’d say that one is that housing prices generally keep pace with inflation. We’ve seen that over time. Will that happen this time? I don’t know. That historically, what I’m saying though is that home prices tend to keep pace or slightly outpace inflation in the past. And so, that bodes well to me.
The number one thing that I think is really important about hedging against inflation using rental property investing is rent. Rent is dynamic, which means that as inflation drives down the value of the dollar and the value of the dollar changes, you can adjust your rent every single year. So, if your expenses are going up or you’re losing spending power, you can change your rent accordingly and hopefully be continuing to make the same amount of money. That’s unique in a lot of investments, you can’t do that in the stock market. Sure if you own a small business you could do something like that too, you can adjust your own pricing, but rental property investing is one of the places where you can dynamically adjust your income to hedge against a devalued dollar.
And the last and third thing, maybe this one’s actually more valuable, I really like this, is that as an investor, if you are leveraging, if you are using a mortgage to purchase a asset, you are locking in your biggest expense, right? So, if you have a fixed-rate mortgage and even if it’s at 5% or 6% like it might be right now, that money is locked in. That’s what you’re paying for 30 years. And it’s the most common mortgage, I know there’s other types of loans. But just generally speaking, if you get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you are locking in that price. And so, even as the dollar gets devalued, you still pay the same amount and you’re paying it with a devalued dollar. So, that means relatively, you are actually paying less.
So, that ability to be able to lock in your biggest expense while increasing your rent is a huge asset that I don’t think is available in pretty much any type of investment class. And this is why people, including non-real estate investors, generally think that rental property investing, one of the best ways to hedge against inflation. Just generally speaking, my advice whether you’re investing in real estate, or stock, or crypto or whatever is focus on the long term. Right? Right now is not a great time to focus on short term profits. And long term, look at this as an opportunity as James and Jamil and some of our other hosts here On The Market have talked about.
There are buying opportunities right now. Does that mean that housing prices are going to skyrocket in the next year? I don’t know. But I think if you’re seeing buying opportunities and you believe in the long term value of the housing market like I do, there are good opportunities right now. And so, I’m still looking to invest. I’m sure someone more experienced in the stock market will tell you the same thing. Things are 50%, 70% off their highs. Like look at companies that you believe in their 10-year value right now. These are ways that you could hedge against inflation in the long term and find good buying opportunities. Personally, again, everyone has to make this own decision for themselves, but to me, sitting on the sidelines is more than risk because you know you’re losing value in your dollar.
There’s risk in investing, there’s always risk in investing. Right now, there is guaranteed risk in keeping your money unless you’re trying to keep some dry powder which maybe you should do as well. But to me, I’m still looking for buying opportunities, things that I think have really good long term value. Last thing before we go, what happens to all this with housing prices? I’ve talked about this a lot so I won’t get into this super amount of detail today. But as for the housing market, demand is dropping. We’re seeing mortgage purchase applications at a 22-year low. And with mortgage rates likely to keep rising as the 10-year interest, the yield on the 10-year bond goes up, is we will likely see more downward pressure on the market. Right?
As mortgage rates go up, growth is going to, demand is going to come down as affordability is impacted. And so, I do think we’re going to see less and less demand. That to me will cool the market. But of course, that downward pressure that is generated by decreased affordability is in many ways offset by super low inventory. Right? And we talk, I talk about this all the time on Instagram, on other videos, it’s this tug of war that’s happening in the housing market, right? Mortgage rates going up and decreased affordability puts downward pressure on the housing market. But super low inventory puts upward pressure on the housing market. This is supply and demand, right? And so, we are seeing this tug of war. Where it all comes out, I don’t know.
I think that the important thing here if you want to stay on top of this is to look at two key metrics, days on market and active inventory. Redfin is a great place to look at this. And keep an eye on these things because they are good measures of the balance between supply and demand. If they are low, which they are right now, inventory and days on market, that means it’s a seller’s market. If they start to go up gradually, I think that means the housing market is going to cool, it might flatten, maybe even go slightly negative, but it’s probably going to get relatively flat. If those two metrics start to go up really rapidly over the next couple of weeks or months, that’s when I do think we could start see price declines.
And of course, it’s going to be different in every market. Some markets might see big price declines, some markets might go up. No one really knows. But I think if you want to know what’s happening in the housing market, those two things, days of market, active inventory, really good things to keep an eye on as things are changing so rapidly in the economy. So, hopefully, this was helpful to you. This is our first attempt at a news update. So, let us know what you think. You can go on the YouTube comments, you can hit me up on Instagram, you can go on the On The Market forums on biggerpockets.com and let us know what you think. But hopefully, this is helpful. And of course, my opinions and thoughts on this are just my reading as of now.
Data is changing constantly. The economic conditions are changing really rapidly right now. And so, we’re going to keep updating you. My job here is to interpret the data and analyze it as it comes. And if the data really changes and that changes my whole opinion about the economy, I’m going to let you know that and we will keep doing that here On The Market. So, thank you all so much for listening, hope you enjoyed this episode. We will be back on Monday for our normally scheduled episode. On The Market is created by me, Dave Meyer and Kailyn Bennett. Produced by Kailyn Bennett, editing by Joel Esparza and Onyx Media, copywriting by Nate Weintraub and a very special thanks to the entire BiggerPockets team. The content on the show, On The Market, are opinions only. All listeners should independently verify data points, opinions, and investment strategies.

 

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