Corporate, not consumer, crunch means inflation ahoy

September 8, 2009

David Bowers, the one-time Merrill Lynch strategist who now co-drives consultancy Absolute Strategy Research, reckons policymakers and financial analysts have got it wrong about the credit crunch. It is not a consumer event, he says, it is a corporate one.

As evidence, Bowers’ ASR notes that of the roughly 4 percent decline in U.S. economic growth this year, around 85 percent can be attributed to a decline in the capex and inventory contribution. A similar picture can be found in the euro zone — where some  60 percent of a near 5 percent decline is from corporate. There is less of a case in Japan, but at roughly 40 percent of a more than 6 percent decline it is still a sizeabe chunk.

Bowers believes this huge decline is going to force companies to resume output because there will be shortages.  On the one hand, this will lead to improved corporate cash flows, narrrowing credit spreads. On the other a combination of inventory shortages, supply chain bottlenecks and base effects suggest to ASR that inflation is on the way.

 “Get set for a ‘bear flattening’ in U.S. yield curve with two-year Treasuries most at risk,” ASR says.

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