Massi De Santis: A Brief Brief
Stocks are part of "real assets" and should protect long-term investors from inflation. Corporate profits should increase by the amount of inflation, and since stocks are the claim to future company profits, the value of stocks should also increase with inflation. As a result, real stock returns (returns adjusted for inflation) would be unaffected by inflation. However, the assumption is true.
Massi De Santis
Stocks are generally higher on average and over time, both in periods of higher inflation and in periods of reduced inflation. However, average real stock returns are lower in such periods of higher inflation. So, stocks are not a "hedge" for long-term investors. When planning financial planning, investors and financial planners should take into account the lower returns.
Investors can expect their returns to fluctuate as a result of changes in economic conditions that are reflected in stock prices and stock returns. Inflation adds an additional risk for investors, by putting it harder to anticipate their future wealth's buying power.
In principle, real stock returns may have a positive, negative, or zero correlation with inflation. Real stock returns might be higher than average if inflation is higher than average, while the opposite would be true with a negative correlation. Stock returns might be the same in periods of higher and lower inflation. Stocks may be considered a hedge for long-term investors.
We show inflation and real stock returns on 10-year intervals, from 1871 to 2021, as compared to periods of negative inflation or deflation (in the 1920s, the Great Depression, or the financial crisis of 2008) because the risk of deflation is quite different from the risk of inflation.
Returns of inflation and stock (1871-2021)
Shiller's data, the stock returns represented by the S&P 500 index, and 10 year rolling percentage returns and inflation rates, respectively, are all-annualized.
As you can see from the left side, the correlation is generally negative, but not very strong, as there are periods of low inflation and low returns, and some periods with higher inflation and higher returns. (Inflation less than 3% is considered low. The Federal Reserve's current target is an average inflation of 2%). On the right plot, we identify the three decades where inflation reached rates that were above average. Inflation, therefore, is important to manage.
Simple correlations do not show how important the impact of inflation on a stock portfolio. To help this, we need to collect past data to see how unexpected inflation affects average stock returns. After analysing other macroeconomic factors, we can see that an inflation surprise like the one we have experienced over the past year will decrease average stock returns by one percent per year.
What is this important, and why is it important?
This is why most financial plans are based on assumptions about expected returns from portfolios. It is important to consider whether higher inflation might result in lower real portfolio returns. A lower expected return means you have to save more for the first time or for a longer time, thus making an extra progress.
Inflation can effect on portfolio returns in the first ten years of retirement. The first five to ten years in retirement have an excessive influence on the likelihood of a portfolio from a 30-year plan. However, somewhat adjusting your spending in accordance with portfolio performance over the next five-ten years can help achieve over longer periods of time.
The best protection against inflation is a large diversified portfolio. A lot of DIY investors end up developing portfolios that are focused in the United States and specific industries within the United States. On the fixed-income side of the portfolio, you may reduce the correlation between inflation and real stock returns by investing in inflation-protected bond funds. These include a broad exposure to corporations or municipal bonds, with an inflation protection overlay.
Inflation may or may not be transitory. Involvement in your plan will ensure that your portfolio returns are lower than expected. And with a positive boost to your plan if it does not!
Massi De Santis, author of Massi De Santis, is a writer.
Massi De Santis, a Texas native, is the founder of DESMO Wealth Advisors, LLC. This program is designed to provide information to their clients, including for them to organize, grow, and protect their assets throughout their lifetime. Massi De Santis is also a lecturer in finance and economics at Texas State University.