MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Price Inflation Hit a New 40-Year High in February. No, It’s Not “Putin’s Fault.”

Posted by M. C. on March 12, 2022

In early 2020, the economic was weakening after more than a decade of remarkably slow economic growth and rising reliance on monetary expansion to prevent the implosion of Fed-created economic bubbles. But then covid happened, and the Fed blamed the disease for the economic collapse and inflation that followed. Now the war will provide yet another way for the Fed and its economists to claim they were doing a great job, and it would have all been a great success if not for the Russians.

https://mises.org/wire/price-inflation-hit-new-40-year-high-february-no-its-not-putins-fault

Ryan McMaken

According to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, price inflation in February rose to the highest level recorded in more than forty years. According to the Consumer Price Index for February, year-over-year price inflation rose to 7.9 percent. It hasn’t been that high since January 1982, when the growth rate was at 8.3 percent.

February’s increase was up from January’s year-over-year increase of 7.5 percent. And it was well up from February 2021’s year-over-year increase of 1.7 percent.

A clear inflationary trend began in April 2021 when CPI growth hit the highest rate since 2008. Since then, CPI inflation has accelerated with year-over-year growth nearly doubling over the past 11 months from 4.2 percent to 7.9 percent.

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For most of 2021, however, Federal reserve economists and their PhD-wielding allies in academia and the media insisted it was “transitory” and would soon dissipate. By late 2021, however, economists began to admit they were “surprised” and had no explanation for the inflation. (What one actually learns while obtaining a PhD in economics apparently has nothing to do with understanding money or prices.) Jerome Powell then declared that the Fed would prevent inflation from becoming “entrenched.”

Now, high level economists have changed their tune again with Janet Yellen admitting this week that “We’re likely to see another year in which 12-month inflation numbers remain very uncomfortably high.” Yellen had earlier predicted that CPI inflation would drop to around 3 percent, year over year, by the end of 2022.

Yellen was also careful to attempt political damage control by insinuating that price inflation is a result of uncertainty over the Russia-Ukraine war.

Never mind, of course, that the inflation surge began last year and that January’s CPI inflation rate was already near a 40-year high. The current crop of embargoes and bans on Russian oil imports implemented during March were not drivers of February’s continued inflation surge.

Few members of the public, however, will bother with these details, and this will benefit both the Fed and the administration. As far as the Fed is concerned, the important thing is to never, ever admit that price inflation is really being driven by more than a decade of galloping Fed-fueled monetary expansion (aka money printing). This was done largely at the behest of the White House and Congress to keep interest on the debt low and government spending high.

So, we can expect the administration to portray inflation as “Putin’s fault.” In a Friday speech to Democratic activists, Biden even claimed the high inflation rates are not due to “anything we did.” The tactic will no doubt work to convince many. But it’s unclear how many.

Workers Are Getting Poorer

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