You hear this a lot these days.
It’s hard to think of the 1970s without thinking of the decade’s double-digit rise in the cost of living.
Things got so bad Americans took to wearing “Whip Inflation Now” buttons…
A “Whip Inflation Now” button the Ford administration issued. Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
It was a campaign President Ford dreamed up to urge Americans to curb their spending.
But the annual inflation rate climbed into double digits anyway.
So feeling that inflation was worse for savers in the 1970s than it is now is natural.
But as you’ll see today, 2020s inflation is even more challenging for us as wealth builders in one important – and often overlooked – way.
Then we’ll get into some simple moves you can make right now to stay ahead of inflation.
That’s going by Washington’s official gauge – the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
That’s the biggest yearly jump since 1990. And the press has made a big deal out of it.
But the inflation rate is only half the picture when it comes to growing your wealth.
The other half – the one missing from most mainstream analysis – is where interest rates and bond yields are.
Richard Milhous Nixon was still president. The Godfather won Best Picture at the Oscars.
And the annual inflation was the same as today’s – 6.2%.
If you stuffed dollars under your mattress, you were getting 6.2% poorer a year in “real” (or inflation-adjusted) terms.
But most people don’t save that way. They look to earn income on the dollars they tuck away… say, via certificates of deposit (CDs) at the bank or Treasury bonds.
And in 1973, these sleep-easy investments paid out a LOT more than they do today.
In 1973, the average monthly yield on a 3-month CD was 6.5%.
Even with a 6.2% inflation rate, you could have outrun inflation by sticking your money in the bank.
And the average yield on a 10-year Treasury note was 6.9%.
That would have also allowed you to grow your buying power.
Compare that with today…
The highest yield available on a 3-month CD is 0.4%.
That locks in a real yearly loss of 5.8% (6.2% minus 0.4%).
And bonds aren’t much better…
At writing, the 10-year Treasury note yields 1.5%.
That’s more than what the bank will pay you on a CD.
But it’ll still cut your buying power by 4.7% a year (6.2% minus 1.5%).
Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. The Oscar judges swooned over The Deer Hunter.
And the CPI shot up 11.3% for the year.
That’s still not as bad for savers as inflation is today.
Because the income on sleep-easy investments was still relatively high…
In 1979, the average yield on a 3-month CD was 9.8%.
That would cut your buying power by 1.5% (11.3% minus 9.8%).
But that’s still a better deal than backsliding by 5.8%, as is the case for folks who put their dollars into 3-month CDs today.
And in 1979, you could have earned 9.4% a year by putting your money into the 10-year T-note.
That lost you 1.9% (11.3% minus 9.4%) a year in real terms. But it was still better than the 4.7% loss of buying power on offer today.
Inflation may not be as headline-grabbing as it was in the 1970s.
But thanks to much lower rates of income on sleep-easy investments, it could damage your savings even more.
Don’t worry, though… There are plenty of inflation-beating alternatives to cash and bonds that Daily Cut regulars will be familiar with. You’ll just have to put up with more volatility along the way.
As I showed you in more detail here, “hard assets” are great alternatives to cash and bonds.
That last one may throw you. But as I’ve been spreading the word on, bitcoin is the world’s hardest asset.
Computer code governs its supply. And new supply tapers off over time. So no matter how high the bitcoin price goes, nobody can boost the crypto’s supply to bring prices back down.
Stocks are claims on real assets – think machinery, land, intellectual property, and commodities in the ground. Over time, those real assets will hold their value versus inflating currencies.
And as our tech expert, Jeff Brown, has been hammering on… one of the best sectors to be in right now is tech.
His mission this year is to get his readers investing in companies that are growing earnings faster than the rate of inflation.
And right now, there’s no better place to hunt for these companies than in the tech sector.
You may not be able to tap into the high yields and interest rates that were available in the 1970s. But if you favor hard assets and stocks over cash and bonds, you’ll be able to grow your wealth through the inflation of the 2020s.
November 29, 2021