Now raising intellectual capital

from Rolfe Winkler:

Why gold if deflation is the threat?

Alice Schroeder wrote a great column for Bloomberg yesterday that I'm just getting to. The best stuff comes at the end, where she describes why some people are buying gold even though inflation doesn't seem to be a big risk. (Apologies in advance for block-quoting lots of stuff in this post, but I think it's worth it...)

In a nutshell: They aren't playing a conventional inflation trade. They're buying currency crisis insurance.

[Gold bugs] aren’t just betting on inflation, as is the conventional wisdom. Gold has a wicked history of being an unreliable inflation hedge. It has, though, at times been a haven against sudden currency depreciation.

In all the talk of inflation because the Treasury is printing so much money versus deflation because it may not print enough, there is one type of inflation that is rarely discussed. This is the mega-inflation caused by a sudden currency devaluation. Currency is like any financial innovation, an obligation secured by assets. When the obligation is perceived to have increased far beyond the level justifiable by the assets, which in this case make up a country’s economy, a bubble has formed.

Who’s afraid of deflation?


christopher_swann1.jpgFor most policymakers, deflation is the stuff of nightmares — scarier even than bank failures and stock market collapses. As the economy stumbled, deflation became Lords Voldemort and Sauron rolled into one.

In recent months, however, this economic supervillain seems to have lost its power to intimidate.