What Is Important—and Not Important—about Inflation

From early times investors have rightly worried about the instability of the price level. Inflations large enough to wipe out real returns from stocks and bonds are all too common. Does that require that the rate of inflation be a vital consideration in investment decisions? Not necessarily. It is not so much inflation itself, but its instability or unpredictability that hardest hits investment performance. Egged on by statisticians, the Federal Reserve, pundits and the press, investors spend scarce time and resources arguing about the degree of inflation. Yet the facts suggest much of the fuss is unnecessary.

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