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Elon Musk sold his houses during the pandemic, but now inflation has him saying own ‘physical things’

March 14, 2022, 7:07 PM UTC

Elon Musk took to Twitter on Sunday, and this time he wasn’t pushing memes or pumping Dogecoin; he was talking inflation. 

Musk asked his more than 77 million Twitter followers about their inflation predictions over the coming years, admitting Tesla and SpaceX have been feeling the heat from rising prices of late.

“What are your thoughts about probable inflation rate over next few years?” Musk tweeted late on Sunday. “Tesla & SpaceX are seeing significant recent inflation pressure in raw materials & logistics.”

Musk seems to have come full circle as inflationary pressures hit his businesses. The world’s richest man vowed early in the pandemic that he would “own no house,” and then famously sold seven homes during the pandemic for a cumulative $130 million. But now he’s offering advice on what to hang on to during an inflationary period. It includes physical property and his crypto portfolio.

What it’s better to own during inflation, Musk says

In an exchange with MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, Musk said that when it comes to inflationary periods, “it is generally better to own physical things like a home or stock in companies you think make good products, than dollars when inflation is high.”

Also, Musk isn’t giving up his crypto. “I still own & won’t sell my Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Doge,” the billionaire added.

To Musk’s point about rising prices, commodities have been hitting record highs amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The S&P GSCI Index, a broad benchmark for global raw materials prices, has jumped roughly 10% in the past month alone. The index hit highs not seen since 2008 last week before a roughly 15% dip brought prices back to more palatable levels. 

Brent crude oil prices, the international benchmark, also rose to 14-year highs near $140 per barrel in the first week of March, putting pressure on both consumers and manufacturers, although prices have cooled in the past week to trade around $105 per barrel.

All eyes on the CPI and PPI

The consumer price index (CPI) hit a historic mark recently as well, rising to a four-decade high of 7.9% in February, as prices for everything from gas to housing increased for consumers.

This week, investors and businesses will get another data point to measure inflation as the producer price index (PPI) is set to be released on Tuesday. Musk will likely have his eye on that figure, as PPI serves as a gauge for changes in prices of goods and services from the viewpoint of product makers.

In January, wholesale prices as measured by PPI rose 1% over the prior month and an incredible 9.7% compared with a year ago. The latter represented the second-highest annual gain ever recorded for producers and is likely what has Musk worried.

Musk’s businesses may also be impacted by the sudden halt of half of the world’s neon output caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Two Ukrainian companies, Ingas and Cryoin, which produce between 45% and 54% of the world’s semiconductor-grade neon, have been forced to halt production during the war. 

Neon is a key component in lasers that are used to make the semiconductors, also known as chips, which help power the modern-day tech that goes into Tesla’s in-car computers—and your cell phone. The loss of neon supplies will only exacerbate an ongoing semiconductor shortage that has plagued automobile manufacturers, causing repeated production shutdowns.

In related news, Musk fell out of the $200 billion club in February as Tesla’s stock has struggled since hitting a record high of over $1,220 per share in November of last year. Shares of Tesla are down over 12% in the past month alone, and analysts, including Wedbush’s Dan Ives, are expecting the company to raise prices for their cars in order to pass inflation on to the consumer sometime in the next two weeks.

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