Are We in For Inflation Like the 1970’s, or Worse?


You don’t need Bloomberg to tell you that the price of living is going up. Just do your regular shopping at the gas station or the grocery store and you’ll know. But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continues to pretend there’s not a problem. Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning, as Amity Shlaes explained.

The thing about inflation is that it comes out of nowhere and hits you. Monetary policy is like sailing. You’re gliding along, passing the peninsula, and you come about. Nothing. Then the wind fills the sail so fast it knocks you into the sea. Right now, the U.S. is a sailboat that has just made open water, and has already come about. That wind is coming. The sailor just doesn’t know it.

“Sudden” has happened to us before. In World War I, an early version of what we would call the CPI-U, the consumer price index for urban areas, went from 1 percent for 1915 to 7 percent in 1916 to 17 percent in 1917. To returning vets, that felt awful sudden.

How did it happen? The Treasury spent like crazy on the war, creating money to pay for it, then pretended that its spending was offset by complex Liberty Bond sales and admonishments to citizens that they save more. …

If you only have time to read one thing today, the rest of Shlaes’s article should be it. She concluded by wondering whether we’re facing inflation like we had in the late 1970’s, or worse. 1970’s inflation we could get through, but what if it’s worse? We may not be able to do anything about Bernanke at this moment, but you can at least prepare by stocking up on necessities, even if they are more expensive than they were last month.