The financial crisis may have depressed investors, but students remain excited about the investment profession.

Thousands of participants made the trek to Dayton's RISE Forum to network, see panel discussions, and see the winners of a student portfolio management competition. A number of high-profile financial speakers participated, including UBS (NYSE:UBS) chief global economist Andreas Hoefert.

Economics, abridged
Hoefert doesn't believe that the economy's problems have ended. Likening the Fed to firefighters putting out a massive blaze, he said that the financial crisis won't end anytime soon.

More specifically, Hoefert sees the current recession continuing at least until year-end. Fourth-quarter GDP numbers fell substantially in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and many other countries. Even formerly red-hot emerging markets like China have seen significant slowdowns.

Water damage
Hoefert isn't entirely gloomy about the economy, though. He sees the high level of government involvement currently devoted to preventing a depression as being successful in the long run.

With the Federal Reserve's balance sheet having more than doubled just since last September, Hoefert sees this major creation of money as setting the stage for an economic recovery.

However, Hoefert sees that successful effort bringing side effects. Specifically, he sees higher inflation levels resulting from stimulus efforts -- perhaps reaching as high as 5% to 10% in the U.S. going forward.

What investors should do
The clear investing takeaway from his outlook is to take steps to protect yourself from inflation. One conservative move is to buy inflation-indexed securities like TIPS. Alternatively, seeking shelter in timberland might work as a hedge, through shares of companies like Plum Creek Timber (NYSE:PCL).

Some investors like mining stocks as an inflation hedge. Gold miners are the traditional pick here, but I'm intrigued by titanium companies like Titanium Metals (NYSE:TIE) and RTI International (NYSE:RTI), which sport valuations that make them look like bargains right now, even with future earnings projected to fall.

Meanwhile, if you think the U.S. will suffer the brunt of high inflation, investing abroad might give you some shelter. For instance, I looked for mid-sized emerging markets companies with attractive valuations along with reasonable prospects for future growth and found some stocks that might interest more risk-tolerant investors:




Market Cap

Forward P/E Estimate

Projected 5-Year EPS Growth

Simcere Pharmaceutical (NYSE:SCR)

Generic Drugs


$437 million



Global Sources (NASDAQ:GSOL)

Internet Information Providers

Hong Kong

$198 million



Himax Technologies (NASDAQ:HIMX)

Specialized Semiconductors


$515 million



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

These aren't recommendations, just candidates for further research. My point, though, is that there's more than one way to fight future inflation -- the important thing is to pick one and take action.

Further Foolishness:

Titanium Metals is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Chris Jones has no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares and has open options positions on Plum Creek Timber. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy knows the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow (both African and European).