01 Mar

Inflation to supercharge pink diamonds

We are already one-sixth of the way through 2023, with the calendar clicking over into March.

So far the year has followed on a largely similar trajectory to what we saw in 2022, with interest rates increasing, and property prices continuing to fall, while in the pink diamond space, we continue to see robust pricing, even if demand has understandably eased back somewhat.

In our latest article, we circle back to a topic that is front page news, and top of mind for most people these days.

And that topic is inflation, with many of us living through what looks like the first prolonged period of significant consumer price rises that we’ve ever experienced.

It’s felt at the supermarket, the petrol station, and for those of us with mortgages, when our monthly repayments are taken from our bank accounts.

It’s also had, and likely will continue to have, a profound impact on asset markets, and the way people manage their money, both in 2023 and beyond, as investors try to make sense of this new threat, and how to stay ahead of it.

Given their track record, we are certain pink diamonds will be part of the solution many investors reach for, as we explain below.


Is inflation here to stay?

Since the middle of last year, markets have been convinced that inflation in the United States, and indeed around most of the developed world, was about to crash, with the circa 10% spike in prices that we saw a largely temporary phenomenon.

It’s understandable why this happened, or why market participants believed this, with a handful of factors contributing, including:

  • A crash in global shipping rates, with some metrics suggesting these costs have fallen by as much as 80% in recent times.
  • A fall in prices for some key commodities, including oil, which has fallen from more than USD $115 per barrel to closer to USD $75 per barrel between May of last year and today.
  • Economic concerns, with declining consumer confidence, higher mortgage rates, inverted yield curves and the like all contributing to a belief that the economy is headed toward, or is indeed in to, a recession, which should be deflationary, rather than inflationary.

Last but not least, the inflation data itself has declined, in terms of the year on year increases we are seeing, with headline inflation in the United States dropping from more than 9% per annum in and around the middle of last year, to ‘just’ 6.4% in the year to end January 2023.

Look at the picture through this lens, and many remain convinced that the inflation beast is largely tamed, which will allow central banks to soon stop with the interest rate increases they’ve been passing through, and maybe even begin cutting them before the year is out.

While we don’t claim to have any special insight, we wouldn’t be so certain that inflation will soon ease off. The chart below, which shows a range of inflation indicators, highlights our concern.

Median Consumer Price Index

Chart of Median Consumer Price Index

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Haver Analytics.

While headline inflation (the yellow line) is falling, the median CPI figure continues to increase on a year on year basis, and was last sitting at just over 7.1%

That’s still a huge number. Combine this with other inflation indicators, including wages, which suggest price rises are beginning to accelerate again, and there is good reason to suspect that we will be dealing with above average rates of inflation for years to come.

This will likely be very bad for traditional asset markets and investments.

It will also likely be very good for inflation sensitive assets, which is where pink diamonds kick in.

Why pink diamonds?

It’s entirely logical that pink diamonds would be not only an effective inflation hedge (i.e. something that keeps up with rising consumer prices), but an outperformer, often outpacing inflation rates even when they are rising quite rapidly.

After all, pink diamonds are finite assets, unlike financial assets which can sometimes simply be created on paper.

They are also expensive, and very difficult to find, process and turn into marketable and tradable investments, which adds to their value.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pink diamonds have a great track record of outperformance both over the long-term (witness their circa 600% price rise in the fifteen years to 2020), as well their supercharged returns since the COVID pandemic and subsequent inflation burst that we’ve seen over the last three years.

In truth, an environment of high inflation will likely be positive for a range of non-traditional assets, though many of these other non-traditional assets are also highly volatile, making them harder to hold through the ups and downs that markets inevitably throw at us.

Very few offer the inflation protection, and the stability that pink diamonds can offer investors, which is why these truly scarce, and unique assets, are set to find favour in the portfolios of more investors for some time to come.

As always, we hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition of “In the Loupe” and we look forward to any questions or comments you may have.


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