John Mauldin On Deflation, Inflation, And What Comes Next
June 2, 2012
One of the more frequent questions I am asked in meetings or after a speech is whether I think we will have inflation or deflation. My ready answer is, “Yes.” Then I stop, which I must admit is rather fun, as the person who asked tries to digest the answer. And while my answer is flippant, it’s also the truth, as I do expect both outcomes. So the follow-up question (after the obligatory chuckle from the rest of the group) is for a few more specifics. And the answer is that I expect we will first see deflation and then inflation, but the key is the timing. Today we will examine that question in more detail, as we look at how interest rates could actually be negative (!!!) this week in German and Swiss bonds and why the US ten-year has dipped below 1.5%. The very poor May employment number needs some analysis, too, and we’ll check the prospects of a synchronized global slowdown. Rarely have I come to a Friday with so much data that simply begs for a more thorough look, but we will try to hit at least the most important topics.
US Unemployment Turns Back South
The US unemployment numbers for May were released this morning, and they were rather dismal. Mainstream economists were expecting something on the order of 150,000 new jobs, but they came in sharply lower at 69,000. March and April estimates were revised down 50,000. As long-time readers know, I pay as much or more attention to the direction of the revisions than to the actual monthly numbers, as the direction of the revision is a reasonable leading indicator. And what it indicates is what I was writing four months ago: we are in for another summer of poor jobs growth.
With the revisions, we have had the first back to back sub-100,000 new jobs months since last summer, with the average gain for the last three months a poor 96,000.