With a 7% spike from last year, inflation has increased at its fastest pace in 40 years. On Wednesday, the labor department reported its measure of inflation “that excludes volatile food and gas prices jumped 5.5% in December, the fastest such increase since 1991. Inflation rose 0.5% overall from November, down from 0.8% the previous month” reports the Associated Press.
National Review reports “the consumer price index, a major inflation gauge, for all items surged 0.5 percent for the month and 7.0 percent for the last twelve months ending in December, representing the largest annual spike since June 1982, when inflation hit 7.1 percent.”
Housing prices and used cars and trucks contributed the most weight to the all items surge. But prices for cars, gas, food and furniture all rose sharply as part of a rapid recovery from the pandemic recession, “that was fueled by vast infusions of government aid and emergency intervention by the Fed, which slashed interest rates.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Tuesday, warning monetary policy is constrained in its power to curb inflation by the current “era of persistently low interest rates.” Ordinarily, the Fed can hike rates to slow down an overheating economy.
“Recovering from the pandemic, the economy has rebounded well but a bit too fast for many moving parts to catch up to, Powell noted, as supply chains still struggle to meet demand across consumer sectors, resulting in inventory shortages on store shelves and prolonged shipping delays” reports National Review.
“The economy has rapidly gained strength despite the ongoing pandemic, giving rise to persistent supply and demand imbalances and bottlenecks, and thus to elevated inflation. We know that high inflation exacts a toll, particularly for those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation,” said Powell.
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