The Motley Fool

Should Canadians Worry About Inflation?

Image source: Getty Images

In 2021, inflation is becoming a real concern worldwide. Most major nations increased their money supply dramatically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, inflation was less than in past years there wasn’t a great deal of money circulating. Now, however, prices are on the rise. In February, inflation reached 1.1% in Canada, driven primarily by gasoline. Prior to that, the country was at a sub-1% inflation rate.

Even during the pandemic, food inflation had been a concern. Now, we’re seeing other goods starting to rise as well. In this article, I’ll explore whether Canadians should be worried about the coming inflation–and what they can do about it.

Inflation fears pick up

In 2021, many economists and money managers are worried about inflation driven by money supply increases and the economic re-opening. In 2020, Canada ran a $380 billion deficit and reduced interest rates dramatically. As a result, the amount of money available “on paper” increased. However, with people out of work due to the pandemic, many types of consumers spending actually declined. As a result, the increase in the money supply didn’t immediately drive inflation.

That could change when the economy re-opens. If the economy re-opens swiftly, people will get back to work, and presumably start earning their previous salaries. That means that most Canadians will be earning more than the $2,000 a month the various COVID-19 benefit programs paid. In areas where the minimum wage is $15, you earn $2,400 per month (pre-tax) on full-time minimum wage.

Many of the larger Canadian cities have $15 minimum wages. We’d therefore expect people to have access to more money when they return to work than they did when they were living on the CERB and recovery benefits. That could drive the inflation that never materialized in 2020.

Ways to hedge against inflation

If you’re looking to protect your wealth against inflation, you have many options available to you. One of the best is to hold precious metals. While metals like gold have underperformed stocks over the years, they have reliably out-performed money in times of inflation. Now could therefore be a good time to get some gold and silver in your portfolio.

You could also consider gold stocks like Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd (TSX:KL)(NYSE:KL). Gold stocks make money by mining and selling gold. When gold prices are rising, their shares tend to rise too. So they directly profit from increases in the price of gold. Unlike direct gold holdings, however, gold stocks can increase their profits through higher production or lower costs. Eventually, this can lead to superior returns.

For example, in 2020, Kirkland Lake Gold delivered $787 million in net income, increased its mineral reserves by 3%, and hit a record production level of 369,000 ounces. These kinds of solid operational results can increase the returns of gold stocks beyond what you’d expect from the price of gold itself.

For this reason, they can be considered gold plays that have some value beyond just inflation protection. On the other hand, the risks with gold stocks are greater, so you should proceed with caution if you buy them.

Some of these stocks would be good inflation hedges too:

Just Released! 5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today for under $49 a share.
Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued, but more importantly, could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.
Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your FREE 5-stock report now!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Andrew Button has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss an important event.

Iain Butler and the Stock Advisor Canada team only publish their new “buy alerts” twice a month, and only to an exclusively small group.

This is your chance to get in early on what could prove to be very special investment advice.

Enter your email address below to get started now, and join the other thousands of Canadians who have already signed up for their chance to get the market-beating advice from Stock Advisor Canada.