The Federal Reserve sure seems to have a tough time finding and reporting signs of rising inflation — especially when it’s hidden in other sectors like a lack of demand for energy.
A recent example of the Fed’s “inflation blindness” comes from a speech Chairman Jerome Powell gave to the Economic Club of New York. According to a MarketWatch piece that reported on that speech:
Powell said he doesn’t expect “a large nor sustained” increase in inflation right now. Price rises from the “burst of spending” as the economy reopens are not likely to be sustained.
It’s odd that Powell would say he doesn’t expect a sustained increase in inflation, because food price inflation has consistently run 3.5 to 4.5 percent since April last year. That sure seems like a sustained increase in food prices.
What Powell seems to have “forgotten” is that some of the overall inflation includes negative energy price inflation (as low as negative 9 percent at one point). But now that the demand for fuel is returning, the official gasoline index rose 7.4 percent in January.
It will be much more challenging for Powell to keep downplaying the risk of hyperinflation once energy price inflation rises back to “pre-pandemic” levels.
In fact, Robert Wenzel thinks the main inflation event is “just about to hit.” If it does, and inflation does rise past Powell’s two percent target, it isn’t likely to stop there. Jim Rickards thinks that’s when hyperinflation can gain momentum:
If inflation does hit 3%, it is more likely to go to 6% or higher, rather than back down to 2%. The process will feed on itself and be difficult to stop. Sadly, there are no Volckers or Reagans on the horizon today. There are only weak political leaders and misguided central bankers.
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