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Inflation is a real concern, says this Senator who is a working farmer

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is a third-generation farmer still getting his hands dirty every single week. He said the levels of inflation he is seeing as the economy rebounds from the pandemic is worrisome, and perhaps not so transitory as Federal Reserve officials have repeatedly mouthed in recent months.

"I'm seeing some concerns around inflation," Tester said on Yahoo Finance Live. "The experts I talk to say it's a bump, and we will be at the end of the year where we have been over the last 20 years or so. But the bottom line is it is a concern for me right now. I will tell you that when housing prices are through the roof and you can't buy a pick-up truck — and I do my own repair work, and parts have gone up noticeably, so we have got some challenges out there. We have got to make sure that we are dealing with that in a commonsense way."

Tester may be right to be concerned about inflation, even if investors aren't anymore. 

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) notched a faster than expected rise in May, according to data out Thursday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Headline consumer prices surged by 5% from a year ago. Wall Street economists were looking for a 4.7% increase. The CPI rose 4.2% in April. 

The headline gain marked the fastest pace of increase since 2008, the BLS noted. 

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core consumer price index increased 3.8% in May. That's quicker than the 3% increase in April. 

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"It’s become abundantly clear that certain parts of the economy don’t have sufficient product inventory to supply the demand at current prices and the data illustrating this today is overwhelming. As the Fed has suggested, some of these price gains are transitory and will clearly be brought into balance in terms of supply/demand eventually, but in the near term prices are moving much higher in some areas as demand grossly eclipses available supply, which raises concerns," said BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officer of Global Fixed Income Rick Rieder. 

Added Rieder, "In our view, the pursuit of inflation merely for inflation’s sake poses a very real problem: That problem is that inflation in daily necessities is disproportionately felt by lower-income cohorts.

Despite the higher-than-expected inflation print, investors took it in stride. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were all solidly in the green in Wednesday afternoon trading as fears over rate hikes and less bond-buying by the Fed remained at bay. Underscoring the risk on sentiment in markets, the FAANG [Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google] stocks caught a bid — this group tends to perform best in a low rate environment (especially one seen as continuing). 

That said, investors may want to pay more attention to comments from Tester, since he is the Senate's only working farmer. If hot inflation levels persist beyond the summer, it could spur the Fed into action this fall on scaling back bond purchases. That could send interest rates higher, which has historically been an unwelcome backdrop for markets. 

Since 1962, both before and after 1980, Goldman Sachs Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Kostin found the median monthly U.S. equity market real return during high inflation backdrops has been an annualized 9% vs. 15% during periods of low inflation.

The median monthly real return for the market has been 2% annualized in phases where inflation was high and rising compared to the 15% when inflation was high and falling.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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