What Democrats And Republicans Get Wrong About Inflation

many economists say that the foundering supply chain has played a heavy hand in driving up prices

“it’s become clear to many economists that American inflation isn’t just a supply chain issue: Our economic response — namely, the trillions of dollars of COVID-19 stimulus paid out over the last 24 months — appears to be a meaningful differentiator.
A good way to tease this out is to look at Europe, which has faced similar supply chain issues and an even worse oil shock, as it is more dependent on foreign oil than the U.S. And yet, European countries have experienced lower inflation, perhaps due in part to their smaller government response.”  

““If you look compared to Europe, in the United States goods consumption is higher, and services consumption is higher than what it is [in Europe].”
One reason for that higher consumption is government spending. In 2020, a divided Congress under former President Donald Trump passed two separate pieces of legislation — first the $2 trillion CARES Act in March, which doled out $1,200 checks to most single adults and even more to families, then a $900 billion package in December that, among other aid, issued $600 targeted checks. But then in March 2021, Democrats passed another round of government stimulus in a $1.9 trillion relief package — including $1,400 direct payments to individual Americans — which some experts warned at the time might cause inflation.”

“Furman stressed to me that inflation likely would have been high even without a COVID-19 relief bill, however, because of a reopening economy and base effect distortions. Moreover, rising gas prices — one of the most tangible ways in which Americans process inflation — likely have nothing to do with the American Rescue Plan and much more to do with the dynamics of global oil. There is at least some evidence, though, that government spending has caused inflation, beyond the explanation that it’s merely been a supply chain issue.”  

“not all government spending has the same effect on inflation. In fact, historically government spending hasn’t usually led to inflation. A 2015 paper in the European Economic Review found, for example, that the effect of government spending on inflation post-World War II was “not statistically different from zero.” But Bill Dupor, a co-author of that study and vice president of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told me that the size of the intervention matters — and that could help explain why government spending today has spurred inflation but hadn’t in recent memory.”  

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