A few days ago, I wrote about how rising inflation is raising a few eyebrows among central bankers and policymakers. Since then, price levels have continued to climb nonstop, thanks to booming demand among emerging economies. On top of that, the ongoing ruckus in Egypt poses a huge threat to oil supply, as the possibility of another global oil crisis draws nearer.
Here’s a neat little supply-demand graph (Economics 101 flashback!) to illustrate the effects of these factors on price levels:
As you can see by the shift from the blue to the red lines, higher demand combined with lower supply results to an overall increase in commodity prices. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, these are the two factors that contribute to rising inflation, and not the Fed’s quantitative easing moves.
However, several economic hotshots insist that the Fed‘s loose monetary policy, which flooded the markets with U.S. dollars, is to blame for the seemingly unstoppable rise in prices. After all, the purchasing power of money goes down if there’s more of it circulating in the economy, right? Well, imagine the impact of buying government bonds and pumping $600 billion into the economy!
He pointed out that core inflation in the U.S. is contained at 0.7% in 2010, which was much lower than the 2.5% figure prior to the global recession. He also mentioned that, even though there are upside pressures on commodity prices, unemployment and spare capacity in the U.S. economy are likely to keep inflation subdued in the future.
With those reasons in mind, he stated that the Fed would continue to provide support of the U.S. in order for their economy to stay strong enough to withstand further challenges. In their recent meeting this January, FOMC members all agreed that the central bank should keep buying government bonds to ensure that the U.S. stays on track to full recovery. Although they acknowledged that some sectors are showing signs of improvement, they cautioned that the U.S. still has to deal with budget cuts which could dampen growth later on.
So it looks like everyone has their own laundry list of problems to deal with, and the U.S. economy is simply doing what it can in order to prop itself up. But while playing the blame game isn’t doing anyone any favors, the global economy also wouldn’t benefit if each nation selfishly protects its own interests only. I’m sure my buddy Cyclopip will laugh at me for quoting a line from the cheesy teenybopper movie High School Musical but, when it comes to global economic problems, “We’re all in this together.” Oh stop smirking, I know you know that song too!
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