Updated from 4:01 p.m. EDT
With the appointment of Ben Bernanke to replace
Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the outlook for the economy appears to be one of higher inflation and rising commodity prices, Aaron Task told
Task, co-executive editor of TheStreet.com and stand-in host for Jim Cramer, said Bernanke seemed to downplay concerns about inflation in comments last week in a Times of London article, saying inflation is mostly confined to energy and raw materials. Bernanke has also been a supporter of the Bush tax cuts and hasn't appeared overly concerned about the deficit.
In March, Bernanke blamed the U.S. current account deficit on "a global savings glut," said Task, meaning that Bernanke's solution for the U.S. deficit might not be higher interest rates and higher savings rates in the U.S., but rather more spending and less savings by nations such as China and Japan.What does this mean for investors? Task said that in the short term it should be positive for economic growth and for stock prices, especially financials and tech stocks. In the longer term, higher inflation could result in weakness in the dollar. Indeed, gold has risen and treasuries have weakened recently. Ultimately, in an environment of faster-rising inflation, cash is trash and commodities may be the best play, said Task. Task would look to invest in companies that produce those commodities for which China is a heavy importer and sell the stocks of companies that produce commodities for which China is a heavy exporter. In areas where China is a heavy importer, Task recommended coal stocks such as Peabody (BTU - Get Report) and Massee Energy (MEE); copper and gold producers Phelps Dodge (PD) and Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold (FCX); and iron ore produces BH Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RTP). In other areas, he recommended Norsk Hydro (NHY) as a way to play China's need for both fertilizer and energy; Tiffany (TIF - Get Report) for diamonds; Cisco (CSCO - Get Report), Juniper (JNPR - Get Report) and Alcatel (ALA) as beneficiaries of China's demand for telecom switching and related equipment; and Canon (CAJ) as a way to benefit from the country's demand for copiers. Task would avoid steel, aluminum, cotton, synthetic fibers, air conditioners, paper, paper board, sugar, and elevator equipment, areas in which China's demand has fallen in the past year. Commodities funds Task likes include the (QRAYX) Oppenheimer Real Asset Class Y fund, (PCRIX) PIMCO Commodity Real Return Strategy fund and the (PSPFX) U. S. Global Investors Global Resources fund.