Rapid Inflation Fuels Debate Over What’s to Blame: Pandemic or Policy

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By georgeskef

The White House is emphasizing that inflation is widespread. The economists agree -however, stimulus-driven consumer spending can also be blamed.

The price hikes that are afflicting business, consumers and policymakers across the globe have ignited the rage of discussion in Washington over the extent to which today’s raging price rises are due to policies made that are made in the United States and how much comes from global factors that contribute to the pandemic like congestion in supply chains.

In a time when fast price increases are impacting consumer confidence and are creating a political risk for Biden’s presidency Biden, White House officials have repeatedly blamed global forces for the rise in inflation, such as factory shut-downs in Asia and the overtaxed shipping routes that are creating shortages and driving up prices everywhere. The White House officials are increasingly citing the rising inflation in areas like the euro zone which is growing at the highest rate ever recorded in evidence that the globe is in a collective time of economic pain and attempting to shift the blame towards U.S. policy.

But many economists point to the policies of government as the main reason for the cause U.S. inflation is at the 40-year-high. While they are of the opinion that prices are increasing because of government delays and supply chain issues but they also say that America’s decision to increase the amount of stimulus funds has pushed consumers into a frenzy of spending which exacerbated the global trend.

The world’s trading machine is creating the shipping, transporting and delivering of more products in the hands of American consumers than it has ever been when people splurge with cash to purchase cars, couches and office furniture at home however, supply chains aren’t able to meet the exploding demand.

Kristin J. Forbes is economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, stated the “more than half of the increase, at least, is due to global factors.” However “there is also a domestic demand component that is important,” she added.

It is true that the White House has tried to tackle the problem of rising prices by increasing supply by announcements of measures to clear ports and attempting to boost manufacturing in the United States and all of these take time. However, rising inflation has already put a dent in the. Biden’s capacity to pass an expansive climate and policy bill, citing fears that further spending could increase the rate of inflation. Senate member Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat whose vote is vital to getting the legislation approved and has pointed to rising costs as one of the reasons he doesn’t vote for the bill.

The demand aspect of today’s price hikes could be easier for policymakers to deal with. There is a possibility that the Federal Reserve is preparing to increase interest rates in order to make borrowing more costly, which will slow spending which could aid in reducing inflation. A decrease in government assistance for families could also help to reduce prices and ease the pressure on demand.

Inflation has increased dramatically across the United States, with the Consumer Price Index climbing 7 percent during the last 12 months of the year which was the highest rate since 1982. In recent months, it’s also increased sharply across a number of nations, something that administration officials have highlighted.

“The inflation has everything to do with the supply chain,” the president Biden declared during a news briefing on Wednesday. “While there are differences country by country, this is a global phenomenon and driven by these global issues,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, declared following the most recent inflation figures were published.

It’s true that supply disruptions are contributing to higher inflation in a variety of regions, which includes large emerging economies like India and Brazil as well as in advanced economies such as the euro zone. Statistics published from Canada and in the United Kingdom and in Canada on Wednesday indicated inflation accelerating at the highest rate in the past the past 30 years for both of these countries. Inflation rates in the eurozone that is different from the way that you in the U.S. calculates it, reached the rate of 5 per cent in December according to the initial estimate from the European Union statistics office.

“The U.S. is hardly an island amidst this storm of supply disruptions and rising demand, especially for goods and commodities,” said Eswar Prasad who is a prof of international trade at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

However, some economists argue that, despite the fact that inflation is all over the world however, it is more prominent in America as opposed to other countries.

“The United States has had much more inflation than almost any other advanced economy in the world,” said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and former Obama administration economic advisor, who utilized similar methods to study across different areas and concluded that the U.S. inflation is consistent and rapid. This difference, as he added is due to the fact that “the United States’ stimulus is in a category of its own.”

White House officials have argued that the differences between “core” inflation — that excludes fuel and food and food items in those in the United States and other major economies in the last six months. The gaps almost disappear when you take out automobile prices, which are rising rapidly and are more significant on the United States, where consumers are more likely to purchase cars. (Mr. Furman argued that those who didn’t purchase automobiles would have spent their money elsewhere and that removing cars completely from an U.S. consumption basket is unfair.)

Officials from the administration have said they have noticed that United States has seen a rapid growth in the economy. According to the International Monetary Fund said in October that it was expecting U.S. output to climb by 6 percent by 2021 as well as 5.2 percent by 2022. This as opposed to 5 percent growth in the euro zone in the euro area and 4.3 percent growth expected for the year ahead.

“To the extent that we got more heat, we got a lot more growth for it,” said Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Many countries spent a lot of money to shield their economies from fallout from coronavirus (in some regions enough to increase the demand for goods and services, and possibly inflation and inflation United States approved about $5 trillion in spending between the years 2020-2021. This was more than the responses to other major economies, as a proportion of the country’s output according to information compiled by International Monetary Fund.

Many economists advocated for protecting businesses and workers earlier in the pandemic. However, many were unhappy with the magnitude of the $1.9 trillion package that was announced in month under the Biden administration. They said that giving families another stimulus package money, which included $1,400 in checks, stimulated demand even as economic conditions were already recovering.

Consumer spending was seen to be a reaction: Retail sales in particular, for instance, increased after the check was issued.

Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics said that that the U.S. government spent too much in a short time during the first quarter of 2021.

“If there weren’t the bottlenecks , and the labor market shortages, it may not be as important. However, this was the case,” he said.

Americans discovered that they had plenty of money in their bank accounts, and when they used that money on products, demand smashed into the global distribution chain just too fragile to keep up.

The outbreaks of a virus shut down factories ports and caused backlogs in ports. the lack of truckers caused chaos on the transportation routes. Americans nevertheless were able to purchase more products than before in 2021. Foreign factories delivered record amounts of merchandise into U.S. shops and doorsteps. However, all that shopping was not enough to meet the demand of consumers.

The Port of Los Angeles is a window into the gap. The port saw its highest-volume calendar year this year, handling sixteen percent more container than 2020. Yet, it has an enormous backlog of ships awaiting to be docked, some of which, as of last Friday are waiting for up to a month.

The extra assistance that the government gave families in the last year was a factor in inflation because of these obstructions, economists claimed. Offering families more money to purchase camping equipment or a new table for the kitchen increased the gap between what people want and what businesses could offer.

Since goods were in short supply and started to become more expensive to transport, companies raised prices.

Government checks haven’t been the only factor in driving the strong U.S. demand. Since fears of catching the virus have prevented consumers from planning trips to Paris or an expensive dining experience Many have resorted to renovating their living spaces instead, which has made items a scarce item. Lockdowns that made families suddenly cut spending during the initial phase of the epidemic helped increase the amount of savings in their stockpiles.

The Federal Reserve’s interest rates are at their lowest and have boosted the demand for large purchases made by credit, ranging from homes and cars to business investment like computers and machinery. Families are accepting more home and auto loan according to information provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York illustrates, which is which has helped to boost those sectors.

However, if demand driven by stimulus has been causing inflation, the problem may have an upside. It might be simpler to limit the consumer’s spending than shift supply lines that are tangled.

People could naturally spend less money as government support decreases. The spending could shift towards goods, and then to services when the pandemic goes away. The Fed’s policies are based on demand and not supply.

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