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3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors

By Cameron Micallef · February 20 2020
Reading:
egg

Invest

3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors

By Cameron Micallef
February 20 2020
Reading:
egg
3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors

3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors

author image
By Cameron Micallef · February 20 2020
Reading:
egg
3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors

Whether you’re an investor in shares or property, the current low inflation environment could be a positive for gains, suggests a leading economist.

According to AMP Capital’s head of investment strategy and chief economist, Dr Shane Oliver, lower inflation equals higher price-to-earnings, lifting the price of shares.

A rise in PEs in response to low inflation, provided it's not deflation, makes sense for three reasons, according to Dr Oliver.

“First, low inflation means lower interest rates, which boosts the value of future profits and dividends making shares more attractive. Or put simply, lower inflation and interest rates boosts the attractiveness of higher yielding assets so investors switch into those higher yielding assets, which pushes up their price relative to their earnings, dividends or rents,” Dr Oliver explains.

“Second, low inflation means reduced economic volatility and uncertainty, and hence investors are prepared to price shares on higher price-to-earnings multiples.”

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“Finally, low inflation means improved quality of earnings as firms tend to understate depreciation when inflation is high and so overstate actual earnings. So again, investors are prepared to pay more for shares when inflation is low.”

Dr Oliver continued to show that, basically, the same applies in relation to property and other assets in that lower inflation drives higher valuations for them as well.

“This is evident in lower rental yields (or capitalisation rates) as lower inflation and interest rates pushes up the price relative to rents that investors are prepared to buy property at. This has certainly happened in Australian property markets with rental yields falling sharply since the 1980s and 1990s,” he said.

The downside

While it might sound like a positive for investors seeing the value of their assets increasing, the chief economist warns of two downsides.

First, valuations are no guide to timing markets and none of this precludes a correction in shares.

“Second, just as low interest rates and low bond yields mean low prospective returns from cash and bonds, high PEs – or their inverse of lower earnings yields and lower rental yields for property point to more constrained returns from shares and property on a medium-term basis,” Dr Oliver concluded.

“The bottom line is that while shares may be vulnerable to a correction, the rally in markets does not seem excessive given the low inflation and low interest rate environment.”

3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors
3 reasons low inflation could be good for investors
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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

Join The Nest Egg community

We Translate Complicated Financial Jargon Into Easy-To-Understand Information For Australians

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