The New Bazaar


Inflation: a guide for the perplexed

Season 1, Ep. 47

Here are three things to know about inflation. 

First, according to a survey of public opinion by Pew Research taken in May, the public views inflation is the single biggest problem facing the country. 

And—this is a direct quote from Pew Research—”no other concern comes close”. 

Second, inflation right now is really high. The prices of the goods and services that people buy are more than 9 percent higher than they were last year. 

And third, Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve—the frontline institution tasked with managing inflation—recently said this while speaking on a panel: “I think we now understand better how little we understand about inflation.”

Even for the people in charge of dealing with it, inflation can be really hard to understand. 

When inflation is high, is it the Fed’s fault? Is it the fault of Congress and the President? Is it Vladimir Putin’s fault? Is it greedy corporations? Is it nobody’s fault, just a thing that happens?

Matt Klein returns to explain the sources of this bafflement, this confusion. In his newsletter The Overshoot, he recently finished a two-part series about inflation that tries to understand what’s going on—and which crucially leaves room for all possible, complex, interacting forces that can drive inflation. 

Matt and Cardiff also discuss how inflation fits into the wider economic context of the last couple of years. And then, to close, they recklessly ask the question: Is inflation finally about to start coming down? 

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