Duff: Inflation is still driving markets, policy, and the economy

CNBC Television
14 May 202403:12

TLDRMimi Duff discusses the current state of inflation and its impact on markets and the economy. She emphasizes the importance of the producer price index (PPI) and consumer price index (CPI), noting that while goods prices have decreased, services inflation remains persistent. Duff anticipates that the Federal Reserve may not ease interest rates until later in the year, given the sticky inflation picture. She advocates for an overweight in fixed income investments due to their potential to perform well across various economic scenarios. Duff also shares her strategy of diversifying into a mix of bonds and maintaining a heavy investment in equities, with a focus on short duration to mitigate risks associated with the deficit and economic slowdown. Corporate credit is viewed favorably, although the transcript ends before further details are provided.


  • 📉 **Inflation and PPI**: Mimi Duff emphasizes that producer price index (PPI) is expected to decrease, which could be a positive sign for inflation.
  • 🔍 **Services Inflation**: Services sector inflation remains sticky, unlike goods, which have seen a decline.
  • 📅 **Important Data**: The upcoming data is crucial for understanding the current economic situation and policy direction.
  • 💹 **Market and Interest Rates**: The market is closely watching the interest rate narrative, with implications for inflation and economic policy.
  • 🤔 **Interest Rate Outlook**: There are two potential outcomes discussed: either a continuation of high rates and inflation or a softening leading to a more aggressive Federal Reserve response.
  • 📈 **Fixed Income Preference**: A preference for fixed income investments is suggested due to the potential for a better range of outcomes.
  • 🏦 **Corporate Credit**: Corporate credit is seen as attractive, although the full context of this opinion is not provided in the transcript.
  • 📚 **Data-Driven Policy**: Policy in the country is being driven by a significant amount of data being released during the week.
  • 🌍 **European Policy Easing**: There is a mention of easing policy in Europe, which may precede similar actions in the U.S.
  • 📊 **Inflation Improvements**: Further improvements in inflation are anticipated before the U.S. considers easing its policies.
  • 🔗 **Fixed Income Strategy**: A diversified bond portfolio with a focus on short duration is recommended, providing yield and protection against economic slowdown.

Q & A

  • What is the primary focus of the discussion with Mimi Duff?

    -The primary focus of the discussion is the current state of inflation and its impact on markets, policy, and the economy.

  • What does Mimi Duff anticipate for the Producer Price Index (PPI)?

    -Mimi Duff anticipates that the PPI will continue to come down nicely, which is an important factor for the inflation narrative.

  • What is the current situation with goods and services in terms of inflation?

    -Goods have seen a decrease in inflation, while services remain sticky, contributing to the overall CPI stickiness.

  • How does Mimi Duff view the potential for interest rate cuts this year?

    -Mimi Duff sees two possible outcomes, but does not expect the Federal Reserve to ease until later in the year due to the current inflation situation.

  • What is Mimi Duff's strategy regarding fixed income investments?

    -Mimi Duff prefers to be overweight in fixed income because it provides a better range of outcomes. The strategy includes owning a diversified set of bonds and being short duration versus the index.

  • How does Mimi Duff's team approach equity investments?

    -The team is heavily invested in equities but has taken some away to diversify. They are long-term investors and have adjusted their strategy to include a focus on the belly of the yield curve for yield and protection against economic slowdown.

  • What is Mimi Duff's opinion on corporate credit currently?

    -Mimi Duff likes corporate credit, although the transcript ends before providing further details on this preference.

  • What is the significance of the inflation data for the market narrative?

    -The inflation data is crucial as it directly influences the interest rate picture and market expectations, which in turn affects market volatility.

  • How does Mimi Duff perceive the current economic environment?

    -Mimi Duff perceives the current economic environment as one where inflation is a key driver for policy and market movements, with a focus on the services sector of inflation.

  • What is the word of the day chosen by Mimi Duff and why?

    -The word of the day is 'inflation' because of the significant amount of data being released that week, which is a key driver for policy in the country.

  • What is Mimi Duff's outlook on policy easing in Europe and the U.S.?

    -Mimi Duff has observed some easing of policy in Europe and anticipates more of the same before the U.S. eases, with the expectation that further improvements in inflation are necessary for the U.S. to follow suit.

  • What is the duration strategy that Mimi Duff's team is employing with their bond investments?

    -The team is employing a short duration strategy compared to the index, which has a duration of 6.8. This approach is taken due to concerns about the back end with the deficit picture and the potential for economic slowdown.



📈 Inflation Data and Market Volatility

The opening discussion focuses on the significance of inflation data and its potential to cause market volatility between the current day and the following day. Mimi Duff emphasizes the importance of the Producer Price Index (PPI) and the expectation of its continued decline. The conversation highlights the dichotomy between goods, which have seen a decrease in inflation, and services, which remain sticky. The upcoming inflation data is deemed crucial for the economic narrative and is tied to the current interest rate situation. Mimi discusses two possible scenarios for the future: one where earnings beat expectations despite high rates and inflation, and another where inflation softens, leading to a more aggressive stance by the Federal Reserve. Mimi suggests that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to ease until later in the year, and that further improvements in the inflation picture are needed before such a move.

💹 Fixed Income Investment Strategy

Mimi Duff outlines a strategy that favors fixed income investments in the current economic environment. The discussion touches on the diversification of bonds and a heavy investment in equities, with a long-term focus. There has been a strategic move to diversify from equities into a mix of bonds, with a particular focus on short-duration bonds as opposed to the index duration of 6.8 years. The strategy aims to capitalize on the 'belly of the curve' for yield and protection against an economic slowdown. Mimi also addresses corporate credit, expressing a preference for it, although there is some level of concern.




Inflation refers to the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, and subsequently, purchasing power is falling. In the context of the video, inflation is a key driver of market volatility, policy decisions, and economic conditions. The discussion suggests that while goods prices have decreased, services prices remain high, indicating 'stickiness' in the inflation rate.

💡PPI (Producer Price Index)

The Producer Price Index measures the average changes in prices received by domestic producers for their output. A decrease in PPI, as mentioned in the transcript, could indicate a positive trend that might influence the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and overall inflation.

💡CPI (Consumer Price Index)

The Consumer Price Index is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, and medical care. The 'stickiness' of CPI mentioned in the script refers to the persistently high inflation rates in the services sector despite a decrease in goods prices.

💡Interest Rates

Interest rates are the percentage at which interest is paid by borrowers for the use of money they borrow from a lender. The script discusses the current interest rate environment and its impact on the market, suggesting that the Federal Reserve's actions regarding rate cuts are closely tied to inflation data.

💡Fixed Income

Fixed income refers to investments that provide a return in the form of interest or dividends, typically from bonds or other debt instruments. In the video, the speaker suggests being overweight in fixed income as a strategy due to its potential to perform well across various economic scenarios.

💡Earnings Beat

An earnings beat occurs when a company's reported earnings per share for a quarter exceed analysts' estimates. The script mentions that earnings have put in a decent beat, which implies that companies are performing better than expected, despite high rates and inflation.

💡Economic Slowdown

An economic slowdown is a period of reduced growth in economic activity. The transcript suggests that the speakers are positioning their investments to protect against a potential economic slowdown, indicating a cautious approach to the market.


In the context of bonds, duration is a measure of the sensitivity of the price of a bond to a change in interest rates. The script mentions being short duration, which means the bond portfolio is positioned to be less sensitive to interest rate changes, implying a strategy to manage risk.

💡Deficit Picture

The deficit picture refers to the state of a government's budget when it spends more money than it collects in revenue. The speakers express concerns about the back end of the yield curve and the deficit picture, indicating a belief that current fiscal policies may affect long-term bond yields.

💡Corporate Credit

Corporate credit pertains to the creditworthiness of corporations and the quality of their debt instruments. The transcript indicates that the speakers find corporate credit attractive, suggesting a belief in the relative strength and investment potential of corporate bonds.

💡Macro Perspective

A macro perspective involves analyzing economic factors that affect the entire economy, such as inflation, interest rates, and economic growth. The video's discussion on inflation, policy, and the economy reflects a macro perspective, aiming to understand and navigate broader economic trends.


Mimi Duff discusses the current state of inflation and its impact on the market.

CPI stickiness driven by the services sector while goods prices have declined.

Importance of upcoming PPI data as a potential indicator of inflation trends.

Market's strong linkage to the interest rate scenario amidst ongoing inflation.

Discussion on potential outcomes for interest rates in the near future.

Analysis of fixed income as a strategic investment in the current economic environment.

Recent earnings reports showing resilience despite high rates and inflation.

Prospects of the Federal Reserve moving towards more aggressive measures later in the year.

Comparative outlook on easing policies between Europe and the U.S.

Investment strategy focusing on fixed income to navigate market volatility.

Investment in diversified set of bonds and reduced exposure to equities.

Preference for short duration bonds versus the index average.

Concerns regarding long-term investments given the current deficit picture.

Belief in the 'belly of the curve' offering decent yield and protection.

Corporate credit seen as attractive under current market conditions.