High Inflation Is Here To Stay
News that the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 5.4 percent on a year-over-year basis should be evidence enough for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, White House economists, and even the president to admit that we have more than a temporary inflation uptick on our hands. Better yet, it’s proof that we should avoid adding fuel to the fire, even if it means cutting back on President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar American Rescue Plan.
Until recently, evidence of inflation exceeding 2 percent—the Fed’s traditional goal for inflation—has been dismissed as temporary or transitory, and for good reason. Newly printed stimulus money has been passing through the system. This, accompanied by serious supply-chain disruptions, might be over in another 12 months—if we’re lucky.
Then in August, the Biden administration indicated that 2021’s economy would show as much as 4.8 percent inflation—but, with an optimistic spin, would fall to 2.5 percent the next year. Meanwhile, there is some stimulus money pending in the yet-to-be determined infrastructure bill, and that complicates the issue.
Avoiding the hard truth or waiting before countering inflationary forces carries a cost. In this case, delays could mean harsher action later when, for example, the Fed hits the money brakes harder to cool the economy. In such a case we might see interest rates head to the ceiling, construction activity and high-tech investment plummet, and the economy roll into a recession.
This is not the first time politicians have obscured the truth with wordplay. In 1978, the CPI was exceeding 7.5 percent and economic growth was slowing because of deliberate Fed action to cool the economy. Economist Fred Kahn, who chaired President Jimmy Carter’s
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