On Friday, we are likely to receive confirmation that Chinese inflation jumped to almost 3% in February, up from 1.5% previously. Higher Chinese inflation conjures up scary scenarios. It could force the People's Bank of China into hiking interest rates when the economy is slowing and saddled with massive debt. It could also add to building inflationary pressures in the US and UK, hastening interest hikes and weighing on equity and bond prices. But relax! The jump in Chinese inflation shouldn’t trigger any of this.
Unlike their US or Eurozone counterparts, UK pension funds will readily pay quite a premium for inflation protection. However, that premium is relatively unattractive for multi-asset investors, who we think can find better ways to manage UK and global inflation risks.
It turns out, quite a lot. The ability of real assets to retain their inflation-adjusted value over time is hugely valuable. Relatively small differentials in annual returns can compound up into huge differences in outcomes over long periods of time. However, knowing whether an asset is in a bubble comes down to a debate about appropriate discount rates.