The return of inflation?

Going up: Global inflation is warming up as economies recover and food prices firm PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Going up: Global inflation is warming up as economies recover and food prices firm PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

Though they have received most of the attention, supply bottlenecks are hardly the only factor to consider when assessing the recent surge of inflation. Far more important are broader structural changes in the economy and the alarmingly complacent attitude of central banks. OTMAR ISSING* writes

FRANKFURT – After many years of low inflation, prices have risen almost everywhere in recent months. Energy and commodities have been leading the way, owing mainly to post-lockdown supply bottlenecks. But while such obstacles are widely seen as temporary, implying that the inflationary spike will disappear soon, other factors are at work as well, implying that it won’t.

Chief among these longer-term factors is the rapid growth of money. Most monetary aggregates (not just central-bank money) have risen at a breathtaking pace, though this development seems not to worry central banks and many economists. With money having disappeared from the leading models used to explain inflation, the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman’s famous dictum that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” is rarely quoted anymore.

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