You’d think inflation were like an invasion from space. It caught us all by surprise; no one on Earth had anything to do with it.
But Janet Yellen was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors…a regional Fed bank jefe, then VP of the Fed, then Fed chairman…and now Treasury Secretary. She, more than any human being, should be held responsible for the last quarter of a century’s inflationary policies. She was right there in the room…and at the head of the table…when the Fed was pumping in cash and credit. And now, she announces that she hates aliens! Fox News: ‘Janet Yellen warns US inflation is “unacceptably high” after June data shocker’:
‘“Inflation is unacceptably high, and that’s something that’s evident from Wednesday’s report,” Yellen said during a news conference in Bali ahead of the Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting. “And I believe it’s appropriate that it’s our top — it should be the top priority to bring inflation down.”
‘Her comments came just one day after the Labor Department reported that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods, including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 9.1% in June from a year ago. Prices jumped 1.3% in the one-month period from May. Those figures were both far higher than the 8.8% headline figure and 1% monthly gain forecast by Refinitiv economists, underscoring just how strong inflationary pressures in the economy still are.’
What’s her solution: price controls!
‘She also noted the Biden team is working on placing a price cap on Russian oil in order to “avoid potential future spikes in oil prices”.’
Hey, why didn’t we think of that? Don’t want prices to rise? Put on a ‘price cap’. Sure…why not? And maybe she could get some advice from Argentina or Venezuela on how to make those price caps work.
How to ruin a country
In the meantime, don’t expect inflation to back off much. Fox News tells us there are more price increases in the pipeline: ‘Wholesale inflation surges 11.3% in June, accelerating more than expected’.
Once inflation is underway, it’s hard to bring it back under control. Which just gives us more evidence that you can’t jack-up, jimmy, or jerk around an economy without doing some collateral damage. And in US policies, we see collateral damage everywhere we look…and direct hits, too.
There are two sure ways to ruin a country, wrote Hemingway — war and inflation. As to the former, Jeffrey Sachs summarises:
‘The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle.’
One dumb war after another. And US$10–15 trillion down the drain. The ‘armed wing of the deep state’ — the war mongers on the banks of the Potomac — have gotten richer. Everyone else has gotten poorer. And it is the same with the ‘money’ policies. Here, we’ll summarise them ourselves…
Printing US$8 trillion new dollars since 1999…
Dropping interest rates below zero and keeping them there for almost 10 years…
Shutting down the productive economy to defend against a bug that was mostly a serious threat to retired people…
Distributing billions of dollars in stimmies, loans you don’t have to pay back, and unemployment benefits that were higher than salaries…
Curtailing investment in vital energy projects…putting sanctions on a major supplier of wheat and oil…
A pike or two
Like the war policies, these programs transferred real wealth from the people who earned it to privileged groups who received it. And they’ve left everyone else poorer. GDP growth rates have come down. Prices have gone up. The typical person has to work more hours to afford the same standard of living.
The average house in 1999 sold for US$131,000. Today, it’s US$428,000. The average hourly wage in 1999 was US$5.15. Today, it’s US$10.86. You can do the maths yourself…but here’s the answer: it took the working stiff 12 years of work to pay for his house at the end of the 20th century. Today, he’ll work for 19 years to pay for his digs.
We don’t expect the fellow to do any long division. But when some future president tells him to light a torch and march on the capitol, he’ll probably do it. And this time, he’ll bring a pike or two.
More about why we may be looking at the Last Days of the Western Democracies, next time…
For The Daily Reckoning Australia