Pro Perspectives 1/27/21

January 27, 2021

Let's take a look at the chart of the stock everyone has been talking about the past few days.

It's Gamestop …

Fourteen days ago this was a $20 stock.  Today it traded as high as $380. 

This was a heavily shorted stock.  And in a world where governments and central banks (particularly in the United States) have explicitly trashed the value of money, which is repricing everything (in nominal terms), you don't want to own debt, and you don't want to be betting against the nominal price of something (i.e. you don't want to be a short seller of stocks).

Those buying stocks are emboldened by this backdrop.  And that leads to the scenario we are seeing in Gamestop.  The buyers are/have been squeezing the shorts out of their positions.  And that is leading to a hunt for all highly shorted stocks, and short squeezes across the stock market. 

This, I suspect, is a short-term phenomenon.  It's a revaluation of stocks that have been misvalued, and controlled by short sellers (Gamestop, notwithstanding — that one is detached from any reality). 

While this may be a short-term phenomenon, it may all be an early warning symptom of what's coming.  We are seeing ballooning prices in financial assets.  How long until we see ballooning prices of every day products and services in the real economy? 

On that note, it's the Fed's job to manage price stability.  In Jay Powell's press conference today, he said nothing to acknowledge that the Fed was prepared for a such a scenario of runaway prices. 

In fact, he reiterated that they would "wait and see … and not react" to any spike in inflation.  Moreover, he arrogantly explained that the disinflationary dynamics that have held, at least for the past decade, don't easily change.  The Fed expects any spikes in inflation would be short-lived, and that the longer term trend of weak inflation, if not deflationary pressures, would persist.  

With this, we should all expect the Fed to be caught off guard, and in the position of chasing inflation in the near future.  And that would mean hot inflation is coming. 

As I’ve said over the past ten months, you don’t want to hold cash in this environment.  You want to be long asset prices.