First, because inflation reflects the huge surge in demand for durable goods, not the much slower growth in overall demand, a smaller Biden spending plan wouldn’t have made much difference. Even if demand had been a point or two lower, the rush to buy stuff as opposed to services would still have overwhelmed our logistical capacity.
Second, because inflation reflects bottlenecks rather than a general problem of too much money chasing too few goods, it should come down as the economy adjusts. Inflation hasn’t been as transitory as we hoped, but there is growing evidence that supply chains are getting unkinked, which should eventually provide some consumer relief.
Finally, even if inflation stays elevated for a while, do we really want to slow the whole economy because bottlenecks are causing some prices to rise? One way to describe the argument of inflation hawks is that they’re saying that we should eliminate hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of jobs because the docks at the Port of Los Angeles are congested. Does that make sense?
Now, matters would be quite different if we saw signs of a 1970s-type wage-price spiral. But so far we don’t. And for the time being, at least, policymakers should have the courage to ride this inflation out.
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