Inflation: It's here and it's serious

It almost seems as if pundits have been saying "the sky is falling" with regard to inflation for a couple of years. Now Kevin Williamson at NRO makes the case that inflation kind of snuck up on us when we weren't looking:

Food prices are hitting record highs. Sugar, meat, oils - boom, boom, boom. Food-related products, like fertilizers, are on a pretty steep upward trajectory. (Even the reliably pessimistic cotton farmers are celebrating.) Inflation is nipping at the Chinese economy and threatens to exacerbate social unrest in the world's largest for-profit police state.

Meanwhile, oil prices are zooming, and the boom in gold and other precious metals has been too amply remarked upon to bear further commentary here.

So, what's happening? Has the entire planet suddenly got a serious case of the munchies? Sure, there are specific factors contributing to all of this - population growth, higher demand in Asia, non-economic events such as crop failures and droughts, etc. - but we ought to consider another interpretation: The price of food and petroleum isn't so much rising as the price of dollars, euros, yen, and renminbi is dropping. The financial crisis, the continuing fiscal incontinence of the U.S. and European governments, and the global attempt to stimulate our way out of our recent economic troubles has undermined confidence in government finances, and with it confidence in government-issued currencies, which have no inherent value. (No, I am not setting up an argument for gold-buggery.)

Williamson's point is simple and elegant: when things are about to get really, really bad, people don't vote with their dollars or their feet; they buy the basics of food and fuel:

It seems to me entirely plausible that what we are seeing is a giant, global vote of no confidence in the economic policies of the world's major economies: Europe and the United States, sure, but China, too. I used to say that you could judge how seriously a man took his beliefs about the future by how much of his own money he was willing to bet on a given proposition. But there are things that people take even more seriously than money: things with real value, like food and fuel. Inflation happens when the money supply is increased, regardless of whether it shows up in the Consumer Price Index. CPI jumps are not inflation, they are a reaction to inflation. But don't tell me that at a time when the market is putting high or record prices on everything of inherent value that everything is hunky-dory on the inflation front. When one country devalues its currency in a last-ditch effort to stave off crisis, it's a banana republic. When the United States, Europe, Japan, and China do it in a coordinated fashion, we're all part of the Banana Federation of Greater Bananastan.

Don't bother me with this now; the NFL playoffs start this Saturday. I guess sooner or later, it's going to become obvious and the laws of supply and demand will make us wish for the good old days of the financial meltdown.



It almost seems as if pundits have been saying "the sky is falling" with regard to inflation for a couple of years. Now Kevin Williamson at NRO makes the case that inflation kind of snuck up on us when we weren't looking:

Food prices are hitting record highs. Sugar, meat, oils - boom, boom, boom. Food-related products, like fertilizers, are on a pretty steep upward trajectory. (Even the reliably pessimistic cotton farmers are celebrating.) Inflation is nipping at the Chinese economy and threatens to exacerbate social unrest in the world's largest for-profit police state.

Meanwhile, oil prices are zooming, and the boom in gold and other precious metals has been too amply remarked upon to bear further commentary here.

So, what's happening? Has the entire planet suddenly got a serious case of the munchies? Sure, there are specific factors contributing to all of this - population growth, higher demand in Asia, non-economic events such as crop failures and droughts, etc. - but we ought to consider another interpretation: The price of food and petroleum isn't so much rising as the price of dollars, euros, yen, and renminbi is dropping. The financial crisis, the continuing fiscal incontinence of the U.S. and European governments, and the global attempt to stimulate our way out of our recent economic troubles has undermined confidence in government finances, and with it confidence in government-issued currencies, which have no inherent value. (No, I am not setting up an argument for gold-buggery.)

Williamson's point is simple and elegant: when things are about to get really, really bad, people don't vote with their dollars or their feet; they buy the basics of food and fuel:

It seems to me entirely plausible that what we are seeing is a giant, global vote of no confidence in the economic policies of the world's major economies: Europe and the United States, sure, but China, too. I used to say that you could judge how seriously a man took his beliefs about the future by how much of his own money he was willing to bet on a given proposition. But there are things that people take even more seriously than money: things with real value, like food and fuel. Inflation happens when the money supply is increased, regardless of whether it shows up in the Consumer Price Index. CPI jumps are not inflation, they are a reaction to inflation. But don't tell me that at a time when the market is putting high or record prices on everything of inherent value that everything is hunky-dory on the inflation front. When one country devalues its currency in a last-ditch effort to stave off crisis, it's a banana republic. When the United States, Europe, Japan, and China do it in a coordinated fashion, we're all part of the Banana Federation of Greater Bananastan.

Don't bother me with this now; the NFL playoffs start this Saturday. I guess sooner or later, it's going to become obvious and the laws of supply and demand will make us wish for the good old days of the financial meltdown.



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