Why now is the time to make sure you protect your wealth
The word ‘inflation’ had barely featured in the market’s vocabulary in the last three decades until it suddenly started to come back with a vengeance in 2021. As higher inflation looks set to persist in 2022, finding ways to generate a return on investments greater than inflation will be a key investment theme – otherwise your wealth falls in real terms.
There are two basic reasons why inflation has been increasing: supply and demand. Starting with the latter, consumers have been on a spending spree after having spent a large proportion of time during 2020 and 2021 at home bingeing on Netflix.
The main reason for the current rise is due to the global price of energy. This has meant higher energy and transport bills for businesses, many of whom pass on the extra costs to their customers. Supply problems and higher shipping costs are also continuing to have an impact on businesses.
Central banks kept saying that inflation was ‘transitory’, but this now seems to have been replaced by the word ‘persistent’. The result is that inflation will remain high on the economic agenda in 2022.
Inflation is a measure of how much prices have gone up over time. It’s the rate at which cash becomes less valuable – £1 this year will get you further than £1 next year. It tends to be a good sign in a healthy economy, but too much of it can be hard to reel in and control.
On 5 May 2022 the Bank of England’s (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee approved a 25-basis point increase by a majority of 6-3, taking the base interest rate up to 1%. The Bank said the members in the minority preferred to increase interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 1.25%.
Beating inflation means earning higher returns from an investment than the inflation rate in the economy. If your return on investment is less than the inflation rate, this could basically nullify the returns you have earned. Due to various reasons, the purchasing power of money decreases significantly every year.
Investing with inflation in mind is essential for protecting your current and future wealth and involves choosing assets that naturally keep pace with rising prices. These mostly include either real, tangible assets, or investments that pay a variable rate and appreciate or increase over time.