Investing Life Wealth

How Can Inflation Coexist with Deflation?

How does one explain a world in which macro trends are deflationary (DumbWealth: The Case for Deflation) yet the basic necessities of life are increasing in price?

While it sounds contradictory, the two paradigms can coexist. Look at housing prices and healthcare costs over the past 10 or 20 years. Look at commodity prices during the 2000s.

From the late 1990s to early 2010s commodity prices across the board were going through a super-cycle, driven by rising Chinese demand. Commodity prices were booming, yet – despite some cyclical bounces along the way – the secular disinflationary trend that began around 1980 continued until present day.

Medium Term Crude Oil Prices

Makes no fucking sense, right?

There are those who argue the CPI stats don’t reflect reality. The thing is, price ‘reality’ for one person isn’t ‘reality’ for another. We all have different baskets of goods and all spend different proportions of income on those goods, so our true experiences will differ.

ShadowStats has re-calculated CPI based on its own interpretation and has consistently printed double the reported inflation rate:

So, despite the long-term deflationary pressures of debt, demographics, productivity and imports, one must still respect how quickly commodity prices have risen lately. We’ve seen this battle before.

Over the near term, we’re going to see rising prices. Perhaps the scariest part of all this is how quickly global food prices are rising. Over the past year, the FAO Food Price Index has risen almost 40%!

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll witness a 40% price increase in the grocery stores or a huge impact to your food budget. However, for the poorest portions of global society this could mean the difference between paying rent and feeding their kids.

In the end, the cure for high prices is high prices. This means two things.

  1. Much of the current increase in commodity prices is caused by supply chain issues created (exposed?) by the pandemic plus growing shortages of raw commodities. Higher prices are incentivizing production (and delivery) to quickly come back on line, which will eventually mitigate further price increases – potentially even lowering prices.
  2. Higher prices could break demand. At some point people simply can’t afford to pay higher prices. There’s an argument that the final straw that broke the housing market’s back prior to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was higher gas prices. People could no longer justify longer drives, eroding demand for new suburban sprawl developments. Simply put, higher prices eventually erode demand somewhere, somehow and this can have a domino effect on the economy, ultimately replacing rising prices with a deflationary shock. This is what we saw in 2008.

Final thoughts

Although the ‘peak oil’ movement seems to have disbanded with the influx of lower quality, relatively expensive American shale oil, it is quite possible the world is riding a deflationary low-tide coupled with broad resource shortages that result in inflationary waves.

My prevailing shower theory (i.e. something I came up with in the shower) is that the secular deflationary forces will remain omnipresent, but most of the world will fixate on the boom/bust cycles driven by resource demand and shortages, exacerbated by fragility in the global just-in-time supply chain.

There will be rotation from good times to bad and back, but ultimately there is no end to this inflation-deflation battle. We can’t make more easily accessible, high quality oil, copper, etc. Yet, ‘economic progress’ requires us to use more and more. However, demographics and debt will continue to act as a counterbalancing force for our destiny.


Government Supporting Fossil Fuel Offenders Over Green Economy

According to new research by Tearfund, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Overseas Development Institute (source), governments around the world are talking more than acting when it comes to mitigating climate damage.

G7 governments – UK, US, Canada, Italy, France, Germany and Japan – spent $189bn to support oil, coal and gas between January 2020 and March 2021. They spent another $115bn to prop up struggling automobile and airline industries, during that time. Despite all the green economy rhetoric, 80% of this money was given with zero environmental conditions.

In contrast, G7 governments only spent $147bn on clean forms of energy. That’s less than half the $304bn given to big CO2 offenders.

Governments around the world are promoting plans to ‘build back better’ in a post-pandemic world. Yet, looking at these numbers, I have to ask: ‘better for whom?’

Life Wealth

Should You Get Your MBA?

Are you considering dropping $100k on an MBA? You better think long and hard before applying. That boat load of money might not get you what you’re looking for (assuming you even know what you’re looking for).

An MBA isn’t a solution for career malaise and those who do it are often disappointed. Particularly given the cost.

Here are some real comments from a recent Reddit post by Canadians who have done their MBA in the recent past:

I completed my MBA from <school in Toronto> last year. I was also a mature student. Frankly I don’t think it is worth the investment. The program is poor and the resume build and placement assistance is mediocre at best. If you are planning a career in a sports related industry, you may be able to connect with alumni and help you in your career, but in other areas / industry – the hiring / placement is comparable to any other degree. You could recover part of the cost by working as a graduate assistant. Not recommended for gaining any new skill set or career growth. If you are interested in entrepreneurship and planning your own start-up, they have some resources and good profs. Other courses, it’s just a sham – you participate and submit any junk, you will get an ‘A’.

I think it really depends on the type of job you’re aiming for. For example, if you ask the accounting majors wheter you should get a MBA, it’s almost always going to a no because regular accounting work holds the CPA designation more valuable than an MBA. However, if you want to get into consulting, some firms may require a MBA, and going back to school definitely has its perks on career resources and events that you can attend. I would say make sure you actually have a plan in mind to use that MBA towards something, whether it be a job in new direction or something. Otherwise, if you’re doing it for the sake of doing it, it may just become a really expensive paper.

Yrs ago I was torn whether to do a CPA or an MBA. Decided CPA was better value and return. Yrs later, I have no regrets. I’m likely making much more money than if I had a MBA. To me, an MBA is really a networking opportunity. The actual content is no more than you’d get in any bachelor degree. So if you don’t plan to really take advantage of the networking it’s of almost no value. And an online MBA is (In my opinion) almost useless, and a total waste of a lot of money.

I may be wrong, but my opinion after 15 year career is that many MBA grads do it because their career has stalled and they need a credential to get another 10%. They tend to not be super talented or high performers but are good at school. Source: I work in marketing and make a comfortable living with only a BSc and relatively high IQ.

Well MBA grad from one of the top Canadian schools here. Unless you’re in management consulting or investment banking then it’s not worth it. Save your money and invest in something else instead.

My husband graduated with an MBA from uoft 5 years ago and hasn’t used it to its supposed advantage. He didn’t take advantage of the networking aspect of it and is still in the exact same industry, associate level position and income bracket. I admit he lacks the drive to really do anything with it which is why I had initially advised him against doing the degree. unless he had a clear plan for his career…which he did not. With that said, he enjoyed the program although it was very intense. Many of his classmates are now very successful in their careers. If you want to do your MBA just make sure you know why you want to do it, what you will do with it and if it will add value to your life and career.

I asked my former boss who did it and he doesn’t think it’s worth it. And as someone who never had an MBA, I don’t think its worth it as well. Education has lost its luster and its more of a “foot in the door” for consideration rather than having value. Even for candidates whom I’m interviewing for, I don’t really put much value behind it. Relevant experience is more important. This is coming from the perspective of CPG business/ecommerce.

MBA is only worth it if you can’t breakout of your current income level. If you’re already at +$100k, then it’s basically useless and your opportunity cost is insanely high for the potential return. To move into the mid 6 figure salaries, you’d be better off with a solid executive coaching program and networking with VP+

I was seriously considering this about 8/9 years ago and was planning to go to <school in Toronto>. I was getting into the tech industry and wanted something that would “help advance my career”. This is around the same time when “design thinking” was the new buzzword that every business was using and, bingo, I was a young product designer at the time. I decided not to do it and I’m glad I didn’t because it wouldn’t have been for me. I hated university the first time around and felt like I could flourish much more actually working and learning from those with experience. I’m really happy with how my career shaped out and I’m earning considerably more than I ever thought I could with room for growth. I know this is an entirely different perspective that you originally asked for but I think you just need to think about if it’s something that is going to be right for you. Do you enjoy what you do? Do you feel like your position has room for growth (seniority, managerial, exec.)? Do you feel like your industry has room for growth (tech, etc)?

Far too often, degrees are seen as a way to get a better job as opposed to a way to do a job better. I think employers can see through this by now.

Successful MBA graduates aren’t successful because they got an MBA. They’re successful because they work their asses off to leverage any opportunity (education/network/namebrand/alumni) to move the needle further. Having the expectation that the MBA will open doors will set you up for a lot of regret.