Inflation and Stocks Relationship


The level of inflation is a very important factor that the Federal Reserve, investors, and corporations always watch.

inflation written largely along with other words

What is inflation?

Inflation is basically the increase in the price of goods and services. As such, it minimizes the buying power of each currency.

Increasing inflation has a disastrous effect when input prices are higher and there are fewer goods that consumers can buy. Consequently, revenues and profits decline, and the economy slows down for a time.

Inflation and Stock Returns

Numerous studies have been conducted to study the effect of inflation on stocks, taking into account the contribution of several other factors such as geography and time period.

Most of these studies find out that expected inflation either positively or negatively affect stocks. This largely depends on the investor’s ability to hedge and the government’s monetary policy.

Unexpected Inflation

On the other hand, unexpected inflation sported more conclusive findings. One of these is the strong positive correlation to stock returns during economic contractions, showing that the timing of the economic cycle is especially important for investors that measure the effect on stock returns.

This correlation is also believed to come from the fact that the unexpected inflation contains new information about future prices. In a similar manner, greater volatility of stock movements was correlated with higher inflation rates.

Growth vs. Value Stock Performance and Inflation

Stocks are usually divided into two sub-categories of value and growth.

Value stocks have strong current cash flows that will slow down over time. Meanwhile, growth stocks have little or no cash flow at present, but will slowly increase over time.

Thus, when using the discounted cash flow method of stock valuation, in times of rising interest rates, growth stocks are negatively impacted far more than value stocks.

Since interest rates are typically increased to fight high inflation, the result is that in times of high inflation, growth stocks will be more negatively affected.

This indicates a positive correlation between inflation and the return on value stocks while it’s a negative shot for growth stocks.

Income-giving stocks and Inflation

When inflation rises, the purchasing power declines, and each dollar can buy fewer number of goods and services. For investors who are interested in dividend-paying stocks, the effect of high inflation makes these stocks less attractive than low inflation.

That’s because dividend usually do not keep up with inflation levels. In spite of not keeping up with inflation and taxation levels, dividend-yielding stocks do provide a partial hedge against inflation.
Similar to the way bonds are affected by interest rates, when inflation rises income-paying stocks generally slump.

That means when you own income-generating stocks during high inflation, stock prices usually decrease. However, investors looking to take positions in dividend-paying stocks usually get the opportunity to buy them cheap when inflation is rising, offering good entry points.


Investors usually try to anticipate the factors that affect their portfolio’s performance and make decisions depending on their conjectures. Inflation is one of those factors that greatly affect a portfolio.

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