|TheStreet.com, Fall, 2012. This article was written with Oliver Pursche, the Co-Portfolio Manager of the GMG Defensive Beta Fund. It was part of a series of articles developed under an agreement with thestreet.com to work with a variety of contributors and assist them in delivering actionable investment ideas each week.|
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — QE Infinity and the shift in policy by the Federal Reserve are more likely to create harm than good — particularly for investors.
It’s a bad strategy for a variety of structural reasons.
Apart from the economic impact, the continued manipulation and distortion of prices by the Fed (and other central banks) make the business of giving advice very challenging.
Investors are being trapped in the middle as poor economic and market fundamentals pull against enormous infusions of money that are artificially inflating prices.
This raises the critical question: Are you a trader or investor? Because depending on your orientation, QE3 produces different constraints and opportunities.
For traders, QE3 is producing some speculative opportunities, but only in select commodities.
By committing to raise inflation levels and thereby lowering real interest rates (Higher inflation with near-zero nominal yields equals lower inflation-adjusted “real” interest rates.), the Fed is unlikely to stimulate the economy or improve the labor market. It will, however, succeed in weakening the dollar and driving commodity prices higher.
But here too, caution is warranted. The Fed’s seemingly unlimited money-printing likely will benefit energy and soft commodities such as oil (Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members are actively trying to counteract this by raising production levels.), gasoline, natural gas and grains.
However many of these have probably hit their highs for the year.
Agriculture, for instance, may have topped with the ending of a hurricane season that was milder than expected. Accordingly, for traders, opportunities lies in the futures as QE3 takes hold. Here are some ETFs to capitalize on these trends:
SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
iPath DJ-UBS Livestock TR Sub-Idx ETN (COW)
PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA)
PowerShares DB Base Metals (DBB)
PowerShares DB Energy (DBE)
For investors, however, investing in futures would not be the right strategy at all. There’s more downside risk than upside potential.
Accordingly, investors should buy or stick with silver and gold. Looking further ahead, I expect markets, consumers and businesses to reject the Fed’s policy.
This will become visible in early November, when consumer and business confidence numbers for October are released. I expect a weak showing and suspect markets will react negatively.