Wednesday, April 2019
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Bitcoin and TIPS: A Field Guide for Investing in an MMT World
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Bitcoin and TIPS: A Field Guide for Investing in an MMT World

By now you’ve almost certainly heard (and heard) about Modern Monetary Theory. Opinions on the validity of MMT are a dime a dozen, but how to trade MMT has been Wall Street’s great unknown, according to Bloomberg Opinion’s Brian Chappatta.

So here it is. A discussion with investors on how to allocate, invest and hedge if MMT comes to pass — assuming it hasn’t already.

“It could be argued that the U.S. president is himself a practitioner of MMT, having fired up growth with unfunded tax cuts and attempting to bully the Fed into implementing a low interest rate policy, which is exactly what the proponents of MMT would advise. I see little reason to believe prices for risky assets won’t continue to drift upwards.”

“In the scenario where the US government is rapidly expanding spending with the idea that deficit financing doesn’t matter, the likely outcome would be higher interest rates, slower economic growth and a weak dollar. In that scenario, we would recommend focusing on investments in countries outside the U.S., buying gold and maintaining significant cash balances.

In terms of US stocks, they would generally be unattractive as rising interest rates generally hurt defensive stocks such as utilities and consumer staples, and slower economic growth would hurt technology, financials and other growth levered sectors. International stocks would benefit from the weak dollar for U.S. investors.”

“You’d essentially be looking for hedges against inflation. Property, commodities, gold. The other asset that could do quite well are TIPS. You’ve got the inflation protection there. I’d probably switch any bonds into TIPS. You might not have a huge return, but you’d have protection against inflation.

One response investors might have is to be very defensive and not commit yourself too much. If the U.S. is adopting this type of strategy, money will flee and it will go into euros and yen. Money might flow back into emerging markets. The best strategy in the equity markets might be to go overseas or to jump into foreign currencies. There could potentially be a flight from the dollar.”

“To the extent that MMT contemplates a closed loop connecting money printing to finance massive projects and variable taxation to address inflation, it will necessarily require the development of something between a cashless economy and a personal finance surveillance state. For that reason, I suspect that if MMT were introduced, precious metals and cryptocurrencies would swiftly rise in popularity and therefore price: both to assume the role of cash surrogates, and to serve as inflationary hedges.

Many of MMTs proponents view financial market trading not as a continuous process of price discovery but as a form of commercial gambling. I suspect that within an MMT economy, derivatives — both vanilla, exchange traded instruments and exotic, over-the-counter contracts — would be regulated far more tightly, if not outlawed categorically.”

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