Inflation: State-Sponsored Terrorism
Remember the quaint old days of 2019? We were told the US economy was in great shape. Inflation was low, jobs were plentiful, GDP was growing. And frankly, if covid had not come along, there is a pretty good chance Donald Trump would have been reelected.
At an event in 2019, my friend and economist Dr. Bob Murphy said something very interesting about the political schism in this country. He said: If you think America is divided now, what would things look like if the economy was terrible, if we had another crash like 2008?
Well, we might not have to imagine such a scenario much longer.
If you think Americans are divided today, and at each other’s throats—metaphorically, but more and more literally—imagine if they were cold and hungry!
Imagine if we had to live through something like Weimer Germany, Argentina in the 1980s, Zimbabwe in the 2000s, or Venezuela and Turkey today? What would our political and social divisions look like then?
Ladies and gentlemen, we live under the tyranny of inflationism. It terrorizes us, either softly or loudly. I suspect it will get a lot louder soon.
As the late Bill Peterson explained, “Inflationism, in today’s terms, is deficit-spending, deliberate credit expansion on a national scale, a public policy fallacy of monumental proportions, of creating too much money that chases too few goods. It rests on the ‘money illusion,’ a widespread confusion between income as a flow of money and income as a flow of goods and services—a confusion between ‘money’ and wealth.”
Inflationism is both a fiscal and monetary regime, but its consequences go far beyond economics. It has profound social, moral, and even civilizational effects. And understanding how it terrorizes us is the task today.
II. Understanding Inflationism
I’ll ask you to consider three things.
First, inflation is a policy. We should make them own it. Inflation is not something beyond our control that comes along periodically like the weather. Our monetary and fiscal regimes actually set out to create it and consider it a good thing. Let’s not forget—both Trump and Biden signed off on covid stimulus bills which combined injected roughly $7 TRILLION dollars directly into the economy—even as actual goods and services were dramatically reduced due to lockdowns. Deflation was the natural order of things in response to a crisis, a bullshit crisis in my view, but still a crisis. So of course Uncle Sam actively attempted to undo the natural desire to spend less and hold more cash during a time of uncertainty.
This $7 trillion was created on the fiscal side of things. It was not new Fed bank reserves exchanged for commercial bank assets as a roundabout monetization of Treasury debt, as we saw with quantitative easing. This was direct stimulus from the Treasury via Congress as express fiscal policy. Free money. This money went straight into the accounts of individuals (stimulus checks), state and local governments, millions of small businesses (PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans), the airline industry, and untold earmarks. This was actual cash, and it is being spent. So any economist who tells you today’s inflation is somehow a surprise is either charitably misinformed or gaslighting.
This is a policy. Inflation is engineered. The difference between supposedly desirable 2 percent CPI [Consumer Price Index] and very bad, awful, no good 9 percent CPI is only one of degree. The same mindset produces both. But the inflationists insist a little bit of virus is good for us, like a vaccine … So an express policy of some inflation is the mechanism to forestall too much inflation. This is a curious position.
Second, inflation is nothing less than sanctioned state terror, and we ought to treat it as such. It’s criminal. It makes us live in fear. Inflation is not just an economic issue, but in fact produces deep cultural and social sickness in any society it touches. It makes business planning and entrepreneurship—which rely on profit and loss calculations using money prices—far more difficult and risky, which means we get less of both. How do you measure money profits when the unit of measurement keeps falling in value? It erodes capital accumulation, the driver of greater productivity and material progress. So inflation destroys both existing wealth and future wealth, which never comes into being and thus diminishes the world our children and g
Article from Mises Wire