The Fed Game!!Richa Varu Rathod
Fed raised interest rates and pledged a whatever-it-takes approach to fighting inflation. Let us understand the rationale behind this decision.
Around 2 years back the world was panicking due to the pandemic. Economists were worried as everyone was locked inside their houses, not purchasing things, not using many services, leading to spending going down. When spending goes down, companies’ profits go down. When profits go down, people lose their jobs. When jobs are lost, the economy slows down, people grow poorer which is not good for the economy.
A slowing economy is an economist’s nightmare. Central banks across the world were facing this problem. Business and spending are hugely driven by borrowed money that is paid back. One way central banks try to stimulate more spending is by making it easier to take loans by lowering interest rates. India did the same in CY20.
There’s one more option on top of this: print more money. India did not opt for this option but the US did. As we all know, the US is the world’s biggest economy, whatever the US does affects the rest of the globe. Low-interest rates coupled with an excess supply of money caused the effect they wanted to see.
People and businesses started borrowing money. The money supply increased leading to spending and the economy started seeing its effects. So, the question arises why don’t we just keep the rates low and keep money printing? When there’s too much money easily available to everyone, spending increases too much. This leads to too many buyers of goods and services and not enough goods suppliers and service providers. There’s a ton of demand, but not enough supply. This always leads to prices increasing, contracting the buying capacity of the consumers which leads to inflation. Low-interest rates and money printing for too long result in inflation.
The US central bank printed high amounts of money is now leading to record inflation. How do central banks deal with this situation now? The opposite of what they did to increase economic activity – increase interest rates and stop printing money.
The inflation the world is seeing right now is not just because of low-interest rates and money printing. The markets falling is also because of the inflation that we’re seeing. Due to disruptions during the pandemic, many items are in short supply. That is making this inflation worse. Oil is one such. Microchips that go in all sorts of gadgets and cars are another example.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing inflation. It has happened in the past multiple times. Inflation isn’t hurting India as much as it is hurting the west so far.
As an investor, you should focus on real returns. Real returns are what you get once you subtract the inflation. If an investment is giving you 6% and inflation is 7%, you actually lost money at a rate of 1% per annum. If you’re able to make 15% and the inflation is, say, 9%, your real return is 6%. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean you simply invest only in high return (which are high-risk) investments. You need to diversify according to your risk-bearing capacity. But the point remains, as an investor, real returns are the only way you should think of returns.
The equity markets are impacted due to such economic activities and investors might benefit from such a situation in long term. Our team recommends value stocks and you can even benefit from these stocks which are available at cheap rates.
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