How An ETF Can Make You 20 to 30 Times Your Money on the Coming Inflation

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June 5, 2009 7:24am ETF BASIC NEWS NYSE:IEF

inflationHedge fund legend Julian Robertson is betting the farm against long-dated US Treasurys. As Notes readers will be aware, we have been banging the drum on the vulnerability of long-dated US debt for over a month now. But Robertson, of Tiger Management fame, has a different way to make this short long-term Treasurys play (hat tip Market Folly).
Robertson is shorting long-dated US debt using something called a steepener swap play. Although the mechanism of this trade may be unfamiliar, at heart it’s a simple bet on inflation.

Robertson reckons inflation could easily hit 7% and that it could even reach 18%. Again, Notes readers will be familiar with this market script. This from eFinancialNews:

Steepeners are a type of interest rate swap, where one party agrees to pay the other a fixed rate in exchange for a floating rate, which is derived from the difference between long and short term rates. Many of these products also use high leverage, where the difference between the two rates is multiplied by up to 50 times to produce a higher return.

Retail investors can make the same play as Robertson without using interest rate swaps. It’s actually very straightforward.

Robertson is betting on the yield curve steepening. This happens when the difference between the yields of short-term and long-term US Treasurys increases. Robertson is essentially short the price of long-term US Treasurys and long the price of short-term US Treasurys.

Anyone with a brokerage account can do this by buying the iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treas.Bd ETF (NYSE: SHY) and shorting the iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treas.Bd ETF (NYSE: IEF). This would give you a leveraged return on an inflationary future, which not only Robertson but also many other underground investors we know are betting on.

Robertson reckons China and Japan will stop buying US government debt as the dollar weakens. This would bring down the price of 10-year T-notes and cause the yield to shoot up.

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