Inflation is the word of the day.
We’ve been talking about inflation for months, but now the mainstream is starting to pay attention to rising prices. In corporate board rooms, board members are talking about passing along their increased costs to their customers. Consumers are trying to tighten budgets. But the Federal Reserve keeps telling us there isn’t a problem. Inflation – so we’re told – is transitory. In his podcast, Peter Schiff said the central bankers at the Fed have to tell us that because they can’t be honest about inflation.
The ISM Services Index prices paid component reveals just how much prices are going up. The ISM’s price gauge rose to a 13-year peak and came in twice as high as the last month before the pandemic began. But the central bankers at the Federal Reserve continue to insist the price increases are transitory. Peter called their position absurd.
To simply dismiss what is happening as being transitory strains any credibility. It makes no sense for the Fed to be taking this position unless you actually understand why they’re doing it.”
When it comes to inflation, the Fed basically has two options. It can admit it’s a problem and take steps to address it, or it can pretend there isn’t a problem so it doesn’t have to do anything about it. If the central bankers admit inflation is a problem, it puts the onus on them to take action. That would mean tightening monetary policy – hiking rates, ending quantitative easing, and shrinking the balance sheet.
And therein lies the problem.
They can’t simultaneously prop up the economy and then take the props away. The economy is being propped up on pillars of inflation. That’s the only thing that we’ve got going is the inflation. So, the Fed has to continue to provide inflation. It can’t take it away.”
On top of that, we have President Biden promising all kinds of big spending programs, from his massive infrastructure plan to the “American Families Plan.” If the Fed admits we have an inflation problem, we can’t have these spending plans.
The only reason that we can have all the stimulus is if we also pretend that financing it is not inflationary, that we can print all this money to pay for all this government, and we’re not going to have an inflation problem. So, once you understand the box that the Fed is in, now you understand why they have to dismiss inflation as being transitory. Because they have to pretend that there’s no problem to solve. Because the only way they can keep printing all this money and enabling all these deficits is if they also maintain that it’s not going to cause inflation.”
Even the slightest hint by anybody at the Fed or in the administration that inflation might be a problem creates panic in the markets. We saw this earlier in the week when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested interest rates might have to rise to keep the economy from overheating. The stock market tanked and Yellen quickly walked back her comments, pivoting back to the approved messaging – inflation is “transitory.”
Peter called it an “insipid” inflation problem that has nowhere to go but up.
More and more Americans are going to have to start accepting and dealing with the consequences of living in a highly inflationary environment.”
Warren Buffett recently warned about inflation, but he blamed it on a “red-hot economy.” Peter said the economy is the exact opposite of red-hot.
A hot economy doesn’t cause prices to go up. It’s actually an ice-cold economy that is the cause. Because the economy is so cold, the government is artificially heating it up with stimulus. So, that is what’s causing this substantial inflation. It’s not the strong economy. It’s the fact that we don’t have a strong economy. We have a weak economy. And so the Fed is stimulating the weak economy by printing money to finance massive government spending. And that is responsible for the increase in prices — not the strength of the economy.”