Cathie Wood’s contrarian deflation call gets endorsements from Elon Musk, Jeffrey Gundlach

Investing

Cathie Wood, chief executive officer and chief investment officer, Ark Invest, gestures as she speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference at Miami Beach Convention Center on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Marco Bello | Getty Images

Cathie Wood, Wall Street’s most vocal proponent of deflation, is getting a few high-profile supporters even as price pressures continued to surprise to the upside.

Jeffrey Gundlach and Elon Musk recently joined Wood’s camp in calling for a decline for prices, expressing worries that the Federal Reserve might go too far. The so-called bond king warned of deflation risk on Tuesday, urging investors to buy long-term Treasurys. Meanwhile, the Tesla CEO called falling commodity prices “neither subtle nor secret” and tweeted to his 100 million followers that “a major Fed rate hike risks deflation.”

“We are getting some loud voices now accompanying us on this deflation risk,” Wood said in an investor webcast Tuesday, namechecking Gundlach and Musk in her comments.

Wood has been warning about deflation since last year on the belief that disruptive innovation will push down the price of obsolete goods and artificial intelligence will help reduce production cost. She is now doubling down on her call as a number of leading indicators she watches are pointing to deflationary forces instead of inflationary.

Ark Invest’s CEO noted that gold, traditionally an inflation hedge, hit its peak more than two years ago. Other commodities including lumber, copper, iron ore and oil have all dropped double digits from their high. She stressed that inflation is less dire than it was in the ’70s as it’s triggered by temporary supply-chain disruptions during the pandemic.

Markets are betting the central bank raises benchmark rates by at least 0.75 percentage point next week, which would take the fed funds rate to its highest level since early 2007. The Fed has raised interest rates four times this year for a total of 2.25 percentage points.

Tesla’s Musk responded to a Twitter thread with Wood Wednesday that the central bank should “drop 0.25%.” Gundlach said the Fed should hike by only 25 basis points as it might oversteer the economy with a jumbo rate increase. He added that the central bank hasn’t paused enough to see what impact the previous hikes have already had.

“In spite of the fact that the narrative today is exactly the opposite, the deflation risk is much higher today than it’s been for the past two years,” Gundlach said Tuesday at the Future Proof FestivaI. “I’m not talking about next month. I’m talking about sometime later next year, certainly in 2023.”

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