12 May

The Big Picture

It’s been another eventful few days in financial markets, with the most media attention paid to the appearance of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) in America over the weekend just gone.

His hosting of SNL was widely anticipated for a number of reasons, the most notable being his recent commentary (primarily via Twitter) on cryptocurrencies, especially Dogecoin.

For those who haven’t followed the crypto market that closely, Dogecoin was originally created several years ago as a joke, with a price that is determined by nothing other than speculation.

In the last few months, the Dogecoin price has risen to stupendous heights, outperforming nearly all cryptocurrencies, including the more high-profile ones like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

This rally, which has mostly been fuelled by Musk’s tweets, at one point saw the market value of Dogecoin hit approximately USD $80 billion last week, making it “more valuable” than companies like Kraft, Ford and Honda.

Unsurprisingly, given that all bouts of market euphoria end in busts, the price of Dogecoin crashed over the weekend, dropping 36% in about half an hour, with the following price chart highlighting the crazy volatility in this market.

Chart of Dogecoin prices

Source: CoinDesk

Whilst this kind of price activity in illiquid unregulated asset classes is capturing lots of media attention, most smart investors realise this is nothing more than gambling, with most people playing this game likely to burn their money.

More importantly, it is distracting some investors from the far bigger picture they should be keeping their eyes on. And that big picture, which deals with what is happening in the real economy, and with inflation, remains very troubling.

It’s also why the next decade is likely to be so rewarding to pink diamond investors.

The big picture

There were two developments that big picture investors should be paying attention to. The first of those was the disastrous US employment figures released last Friday, with the country only creating 266,000 jobs in April.

This was well short of analyst expectations, who thought 1 million new jobs would be announced, and saw the unemployment rate creep back above 6%.

This result tells investors loud and clear that the much-heralded economic recovery is going to be a lot slower, and a lot more uncertain than people are hoping for. That means less jobs, less income, less consumption, and less profit for companies, who will be selling less goods and services.

It also means much more government support, and much more support from central bankers, which combined mean higher debt levels, and more money printing.

And ultimately, more money printing is likely to mean more inflation, at least in the fullness of time. Indeed, one could argue we are already starting to see it, with the prices of commodities like lumber, and iron ore here in Australia continuing to soar.

Inflation expectations also continue to increase, as per the chart below, which shows markets expect inflation to be 2.33% per annum over the next five years, up from less than 1% a year ago.

Chart of 5-year inflation expected rate.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve. U.S. recessions are shaded; the most recent end date is undecided.

Inflation rates of 2.33% might not sound like a lot but remember that’s inflation as a whole. Things like health care, food and electricity are seeing inflation rates of double that, whilst interest rates are at zero.

Stay in cash, and in the next 10 years investors could easily lose half their wealth when measured against a basket of must-have items.

Unlike Dogecoin, and quite possibly the majority of the cryptocurrency universe, these challenges facing the global economy, financial markets, and us as investors are no joke.

Equities, bonds, cash, property – at best most of these assets will do well to simply hold their value in the decade, with most at risk of seeing significant falls in their purchasing power.

Stay the course with pink diamonds

Rather than keeping 100% of their money in asset classes that are susceptible to major downside, astute investors realise they need to retain healthy allocations to hard assets in order to thrive in the period ahead.

As we have often explained in these market updates, of all the hard assets investors can consider, few are likely to match the performance of pink diamonds in the years ahead.

There are two primary reasons for this, the first of which is the obvious genuine supply shortage, which has only been exacerbated by the closure of the Argyle Diamond Mine.

The second reason is that unlike most commodities, pink diamonds are largely insulated from slow-downs in the economy. This was evidenced during the Global Financial Crisis and again last year during the height of the COVID-19 panic, with pink diamond prices largely unaffected, whilst broader commodity prices tanked.

This creates more sustainable, and more enduring demand for pink diamonds, and reinforces why we think investors will see these truly unique investments as the hard asset of choice in the decade ahead.

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


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