While there’s understandable obsession over the likely level of inflation (especially with the year-over-year CPI dipping below zero in the past two months), equity managers with no interest or skill in inflation forecasting might be better served by monitoring the character of inflation—i.e., whether it was led by changes in consumer or producer prices.
Commodity producers seem to believe that last decade’s commodity boom is set to repeat. This belief itself probably ensures that it won’t.
The evidence is building.
Many consumer stocks are no longer especially cheap, even when 1983 earnings are considered. Nor has the increase in consumer demand most were expecting materialized. While consumer stocks rallied strongly with the strong August market and did not flounder in the September consolidation, they are certainly no longer the mighty market leaders they were earlier in the year. These factors combine, creating a vague uneasiness concerning consumer stocks.