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President Joe Biden once bizarrely remarked on the 2020 campaign trail, “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.” It shows.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that the CPI rose at its fastest rate since 1990: 0.9 percent for the month of October and 6.2 percent year over year—faster than Wall Street consensus estimates of 0.6 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.
Perhaps most telling, the acceleration in prices still clocks in at 0.6 percent monthly when the volatile food and energy categories are excluded, suggesting inflation is here to stay. Astute observers might notice that the 0.9 percent monthly change in CPI represents faster inflation than earlier this year, and that if current trends continued for one year, next October’s annual price increase would be 10.8 percent. These figures, quite frankly, obliterate any notion that our inflation is “transitory” or trivial. In response, the president declared inflation his “top priority.” Judging by the administration’s economic agenda, this only spells more trouble. Most of our economic Brahmins in Washington have misdiagnosed the causes of the current inflation crisis. Watching the chattering classes or browsing through center-left websites, one deduces that there is great consensus among the intelligentsia on who is to blame: you. You buy too much, expect it too quickly, are too dependent on complicated supply chains, and have not adequately respected COVID safety measures, thus ensuring that the virus continues to disrupt the economy. Just lower your expectations, as the Washington Post opines
Missed in this analysis is the fact that the worst of COVID has been over for quite some time in the United States, and almost all states have eased or eliminated their COVID-related lockdowns and the shuttering of factories and stores. To the extent that the current inflation may be attributable to a virus with a death rate of 0.5 – 1 percent (reported—many people had the virus and never reported it), it is attributable to the unintended consequences of government overreaction—businesses that no longer exist, knowledge no longer employed, human capital lost, higher compliance and transactional costs, etc. Meanwhile, blaming the American consumer is what […]
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