“If the current annual inflation rate is only 1.4 percent,1 why do my bills seem like they’re 10 percent higher than last year?”
Many of us ask ourselves that question, and it illustrates the importance of understanding how inflation is reported and how it can affect investments. Having a plan to protect your investments against inflation in retirement is critical.
What Is Inflation?
Inflation is defined as an upward movement in the average level of prices. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a report called the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to track these fluctuations. It was developed from detailed expenditure information provided by families and individuals on purchases made in the following categories: food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other groups and services.2
How Applicable Is the CPI?
While it’s the commonly used indicator of inflation, the CPI has come under scrutiny. For example, the CPI rose 1.4 percent for the 12-months ending in January 2021 – a relatively small increase. However, a closer look at the report shows movement in prices on a more detailed level. Used car and truck prices, for example, rose 10 percent during those 12 months.3
Are Investments Affected by Inflation?
They sure are. As inflation rises and falls, three notable effects are observed.
First, inflation reduces the real rate of return on investments. So, if an investment earned 6 percent for a 12-month period, and inflation averaged 1.5 percent over that time, the investment’s real rate of return would have been 4.5 percent. If taxes are considered, the real rate of return may be reduced even further.4
Second, inflation puts purchasing power at risk. When prices rise, a fixed amount of money has the power to purchase fewer and fewer goods.
Third, inflation can influence the actions of the Federal Reserve. If the Fed wants to control inflation, it has various methods for reducing the amount of money in circulation. Hypothetically, a smaller supply of money would lead to less spending, which may lead to lower prices and lower inflation.
Empower Yourself with a Trusted Financial Professional
When inflation is low, it’s easy to overlook how rising prices are affecting a household budget. On the other hand, when inflation is high, it may be tempting to make more sweeping changes in response to increasing prices. The best approach may be to reach out to your financial professional to help you develop a sound investment strategy that takes both possible scenarios into account.
1. InflationData.com, 2021
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
3. InflationData.com, 2021
4. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2021 FMG Suite.
Rees Bridges brings a unique value to the IFW as both a highly accomplished creative professional and a successful financial services executive to serve in his role as Senior VP, Marketing & Communications.
Over the last decade Rees has served as the lead marketing & communications professional for a Fortune 500 Financial Services firm. He oversaw all advisor marketing strategies, client communications, and the entire firms branding and marketing initiatives.
Rees continues to pursue his passions as a creative professional & musician for over 30 years, with an impressive profile and reputation as a designer, performer, teacher, and studio musician. Here is a little secret: He serves in the role as an international clinician for Mapex drums, Paiste Cymbals and held the record for world’s fastest drummer between 2006 and 2007.
Rees grew up in London, England and currently resides in Miami, Florida. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and indulging in his passions for music and creative pursuits.