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Thread: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

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    Default The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Comedians are supposed to make us laugh... but sometimes, certain comedians are the keenest observers of contemporary issues. John Oliver is one of these, and he provides the best, objective, non-partisan discussion of inflation I've seen yet.

    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Well done!!
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    John Oliver's video appeared on youtube a day or so ago. I watched some of it. This time I watched some at the end.

    John Oliver made a comment along the lines of Economists disagree on the causes of inflation.

    I am certain his intended meaning was not the one can find comedians and economists with well reasoned arguments to support one's position on the causes of inflation.

    But I like a comment someone made a while back: When you turn off the economy, know how to turn it back on. It is more difficult than most imagine.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Last Week Tonight is my current favorite TV show. I have one bone to pick with him on this one. Of course the ecnomy is a large, dynamic thing, and this aspect, inflation, is over-determined, with many interleaved factors to explain it, but in his enumeration of the various contrbuting factors, he includes corporate greed without recognizing how large an influence it is, and didn’t mention the gross enormity that the billionaires added a trillion dollars to their hoardes during the pandemic when everyone not fabulously wealthy took a big hit, and the equally egregious fact that while Putin’s war has hit the world supply of petroleum and is the biggest factor of the rise in the price of gas all around the globe, the big oil companies are making obscene record profits. The rich, the mover-shakers, are adding to the burden of the record inflation by price-gouging on an industrial scale.


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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    he includes corporate greed without recognizing how large an influence it is, and didn’t mention the gross enormity that the billionaires added a trillion dollars to their hoardes during the pandemic when everyone not fabulously wealthy took a big hit,
    Robert Reich has a video blaming corporate greed. Today the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed making a claim the middle class - $68-140K/year household income, have lost a great deal of wealth do to the stock market "downturn".

    If we take the op-ed as implying that the middle class has significant investment in the stock market, corporate greed has added considerably to the wealth of the middle class - 100-200% of median income. Ignoring the normal noise in the stock market, the S&P500 is up over 13% annualized since January 2019.

    Many of us - 50% of households, are benefiting from corporate greed.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    I expect most here have seen reports on companies raising prices simply to take advantage of the situation. Reich points out that the oil companies are making record profits.

    The wealthy people/companies buy politicians. The rest of us pay the price.
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    My response has been to mostly stop consuming. Basic food, a little gas, electricity for the ac. F em all.

    A little craigslist here and there if I find a bargain.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen



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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    So how much were those frogs?

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    That kind of messaging is misleading. Cheap gas is not our entitlement as Americans.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    last two minutes are hardly non-partisan, the rest is decent... but it glosses over the two most crucial (I mean it) aspects:

    - Raising interest rates influences inflation via reducing all kinds of spending, effectively pulling a brake on the economy. Too little and you'll have the economy slow down due to raising prices, too much and it slows down even more. It's an act of balance, that in trying times like now is done with a narrow margin of error. Of both bad options, choosing to let inflation raise is safer than not; inflation causes folk to lose money, raising interest rates causes folk to lose jobs.
    - Inflation IS effectively an act of taxing the common folk, just not only the middle class. Even fiat money doesn't disappear. Where does it reappear then? In long term fixed rate credit, which is now cheaper to pay off. If your today's dollar is worth 80 cents of two years ago, repaying a dollar and even 10 cents today still means you're repaying less than you've borrowed. What kind of entity has access to billions of dollars of fixed rate loans? The state that issues bonds. You are getting same dollars, but are still losing money. The state is gaining money thanks to their debt losing value. The middle class will experience the process by observing their savings, the lower class by - in many cases - not catering to pretty basic needs. Humanely, we should be concerned by the poor getting even poorer, of course. Economically, the classic understanding is that the strong middle class pushes the economy forward. Having folk from it lean towards the lower income tiers or straight drop into them is not good, and that's the (maybe a bit forgotten) origin of "taxing the middle class" snippet Oliver showed.
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    We can argue about which of the multiple contributors to inflation cited by John Oliver was dominant. My own take: more of the blame falls on Covid, and the supply chain disruptions. Some of the blame… but unfortunately, a necessary contributor at the time… was the relief money spent to ease the pain of middle and lower class Americans. A small amount of the blame goes to corporations taking advantage of inflation to raise prices, resulting in whopping corporate profits. Little, or possible none of the blame, belongs to Biden.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Little, or possible none of the blame, belongs to Biden.
    All of the blame belongs to Biden, for, if the economy was strong, he would take all of the credit!

    Raising interest rates is not tightening. Sure, it will reduce some of the demand, but raising rates to fight inflation is an experimental exercise. Keeping low interest rates and raising bank's reserve requirements might have a better result. The FED has lots of tools and uses them poorly.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by dbstra View Post
    All of the blame belongs to Biden, for, if the economy was strong, he would take all of the credit!

    Raising interest rates is not tightening. Sure, it will reduce some of the demand, but raising rates to fight inflation is an experimental exercise. Keeping low interest rates and raising bank's reserve requirements might have a better result. The FED has lots of tools and uses them poorly.
    Silly
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by WszystekPoTrochu View Post
    The middle class will experience the process by observing their savings, the lower class by - in many cases - not catering to pretty basic needs. Humanely, we should be concerned by the poor getting even poorer, of course. Economically, the classic understanding is that the strong middle class pushes the economy forward. Having folk from it lean towards the lower income tiers or straight drop into them is not good, and that's the (maybe a bit forgotten) origin of "taxing the middle class" snippet Oliver showed.
    Definitions are important.

    The poor - household incomes below the median, are an interesting economic class. Every day for members is one of unfilled needs. They are forever in recession. Giving them money is more likely then not going to drive the economy forward. With a bit of inflation.

    The middle class - household incomes between the median and twice the median, are less interesting. They start to complain when they make a choice to (rather than need) to defer some of their wants. They created the myth that they move the economy forward and are entitled.

    No need to talk about the rich - those with household incomes above twice the median. They move money from one pocket to another and complain that the former pocket is empty.

    It is by design that the government has few tools appropriate for controlling the economy. The FED rate is not very appropriate.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by dbstra View Post
    All of the blame belongs to Biden, for, if the economy was strong, he would take all of the credit!

    Raising interest rates is not tightening. Sure, it will reduce some of the demand, but raising rates to fight inflation is an experimental exercise. Keeping low interest rates and raising bank's reserve requirements might have a better result. The FED has lots of tools and uses them poorly.
    All the blame goes to Biden?

    Perhaps you might alert our good friends on the other side of the pond in the UK. A few weeks back there was a protest involving more than a million people (or so I've heard) protesting inflation and it was reported that not a single sign nor voiced protest mentioned Biden at all.

    Our British cousins have always struck me as reasonably well informed, someone ought to alert them to the fact that Biden is the cause of all their inflationary woes, N'est-ce pas?
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    We can argue about which of the multiple contributors to inflation cited by John Oliver was dominant. My own take: more of the blame falls on Covid, and the supply chain disruptions. Some of the blame… but unfortunately, a necessary contributor at the time… was the relief money spent to ease the pain of middle and lower class Americans. A small amount of the blame goes to corporations taking advantage of inflation to raise prices, resulting in whopping corporate profits. Little, or possible none of the blame, belongs to Biden.
    I fully agree.

    Pre-covid the world economy operated reasonably efficiently, or at least with a reasonable degree of stability. Now everything is out of balance.

    Governments around the world did what they had to do. I don't believe the handouts that took place in Europe and the US meant that everyone went on a big spending spree.

    Some companies are making good profits now, but many are still recovering from losses made over Covid. Oil companies are the current favorite industry to have a pop at, but remember that it was only about two years ago the price of crude futures briefly dropped below zero. Effectively, for a brief period at least, they were staring into the abyss of potentially having to pay people to take the stuff off their hands.

    I'm involved in international logistics. It's a real mess. Shortages of basic materials means clients are buying more expensive supplies from Europe rather than Asia. Disruptions with shipping and airfreight have lengthened delivery times and pushed up shipping prices. Business purchasing decisions are less about finding the best value than they are about finding anyone who can actually supply goods/services.

    It'll take a while for the supply side to settle down, but right now I feel this is the major contributor to global inflation. Unfortunately the raising of interest rates is perhaps a better weapon to dampen demand than it is in increasing supply, but there is little alternative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    But I like a comment someone made a while back: When you turn off the economy, know how to turn it back on. It is more difficult than most imagine.
    Yup, It's going to be a rough ride for the next 12 months or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin T View Post
    All the blame goes to Biden?

    Perhaps you might alert our good friends on the other side of the pond in the UK. A few weeks back there was a protest involving more than a million people (or so I've heard) protesting inflation and it was reported that not a single sign nor voiced protest mentioned Biden at all.

    Our British cousins have always struck me as reasonably well informed, someone ought to alert them to the fact that Biden is the cause of all their inflationary woes, N'est-ce pas?
    Agreed - We had no government handouts during Covid here in the UAE, and none were expected. We currently have inflation and rising interest rates just as you guys do in the US. The main driver for the rising prices in the shops here is down to supply chain issues. Biden has nothing to do with it!

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    In case it hasn’t been mentioned yet, the signifacance of the war-caused hike in fuel prices is that that automatcally inflates the cost of not just gas at the pump for drivers, but also for virtually every consumer good and service that needs fuel for production and distribution, including for all the parts and supplies for all those things. Your beef and cheese and bread all cost more due the rise in the cost fuel, as well as your furniture and appliances and everything connected to the IoT, pretty much everything, including babysitting. It all gets added to and passed along. The only things that don’t cost more are what you already have paid for, unless there are maintenance costs, too. It doesn’t cost more to breathe, per se, but it does cost more to stay breathing, and eating, sleeping etc.


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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Already seeing early signs that inflation might be easing. The proverbial 'soft landing' is a delicate and elusive creature... all the policy wonks can do is their best estimations based upon both too much and too little information.
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Spending also shifted from services to stuff. Less travel, more gym equipment at home. Less stuff being produced and supply lines slow.....

    The inflation hydra.
    It's all fun and games until Darth Vader comes.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by dbstra View Post
    All of the blame belongs to Biden, for, if the economy was strong, he would take all of the credit!

    Raising interest rates is not tightening. Sure, it will reduce some of the demand, but raising rates to fight inflation is an experimental exercise. Keeping low interest rates and raising bank's reserve requirements might have a better result. The FED has lots of tools and uses them poorly.
    The president can only sign bills the congress passes. Other than that, the president has less control than we often think.
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    That kind of messaging is misleading. Cheap gas is not our entitlement as Americans.
    That isn't the message I got at all. If they can sell $100/barrel oil @ $2.50 & make a profit, why is it over double the price now. Only answer is that they are making more money. This is the corporate greed part of the equation.

    Discussing prices & discouraging usage is a separate topic.
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    That isn't the message I got at all. If they can sell $100/barrel oil @ $2.50 & make a profit, why is it over double the price now. Only answer is that they are making more money. This is the corporate greed part of the equation.

    Discussing prices & discouraging usage is a separate topic.

    There's a shortage of oil so price goes up. It costs the same to extract whether there's a shortage or a glut. Higher prices is bigger profits.
    If you don't want to pay - someone else will.

    A kick in the guts here in Australia is paying more for local gas. We own the stuff and because Germany is short we pay more.
    I imagine the same sentiment in the US for your own oil/petrol.
    It's all fun and games until Darth Vader comes.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    That isn't the message I got at all. If they can sell $100/barrel oil @ $2.50 & make a profit, why is it over double the price now. Only answer is that they are making more money. This is the corporate greed part of the equation.

    Discussing prices & discouraging usage is a separate topic.
    The long term movement of gasoline prices follows oil prices but a spot oil price doesn’t explain a particular gasoline price. Off the top of myhead I don’t think we were exporting as much gasoline in 2014 as we are now which can be one of many factors in that gasoline price. Another thing is that those two photos are totally without context. What day in June, where on their respective curves were they taken. Where were they taken? Did state and local taxes go up between 2014 and 2022? Given that Fed taxes haven’t been adjusted every state has to boost taxes to make up the shortfall.
    It’s a frigging gotcha twitter meme not analysis of gasoline pricing.


    https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/Le...s=mgfexus1&f=m

    2014 gasoline exports for June, 11 million barrels a month
    2022 gasoline exports for June, 27 million barrels a month


    https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-f...-for-fuels.htm

    If this was Calif then state sales tax went up $.14/gal in 8 yrs, not sure about local taxes where that photo is taken. Nope can’t be California gas was $4.16 in june 2014.

    https://www.laalmanac.com/energy/en12.php


    It’s a frigging photo without context, who knows if it’s even accurate for time and location.
    Last edited by LeeG; 08-05-2022 at 11:03 AM.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Whether the photo of gas pump prices is misleading or not, the gist of the meme is still provocative. Oil companies have posted record profits while the price of gas fluctuates unfavorable for millions due primarily to Putin's criminal war.

    At the same time, the richest of the rich in the US also posted record 'earnings' during the pandemic while small businesses and people suffered from shortages and closures and etc.


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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    Whether the photo of gas pump prices is misleading or not, the gist of the meme is still provocative. Oil companies have posted record profits while the price of gas fluctuates unfavorable for millions due primarily to Putin's criminal war.

    At the same time, the richest of the rich in the US also posted record 'earnings' during the pandemic while small businesses and people suffered from shortages and closures and etc.
    Yeah, Rush Limbaugh was provocative.

    It matters whether information is used to mislead or not. That twitter image is designed to mislead. Where in the US did prices go from $2.52 to $6.07 in 8 yrs? Doesn’t it matter if the information is accurate, cherry picked or false? Doesn’t it matter whether the image represents an average or an outlier?
    Oil and Gas industry and oil nations did not have record earnings when the pandemic hit so “record earnings” would be expected after a record drop in demand.
    My basic point is that demonizing nations, national oil companies and private oil companies is an easy game when in the big picture lowcost fuel enabled incredible growth and unrealistic expectations for the future. People and nations have to get their effing house in order for this non-renewable resource because there will be more price shocks to come which oil companies and nations will have little control over.

    #Republicanshatecheapgas is an idiotic appeal to a false narrative that we’re entitled to cheap gas.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    Whether the photo of gas pump prices is misleading or not, the gist of the meme is still provocative. Oil companies have posted record profits while the price of gas fluctuates unfavorable for millions due primarily to Putin's criminal war.

    At the same time, the richest of the rich in the US also posted record 'earnings' during the pandemic while small businesses and people suffered from shortages and closures and etc.
    Everything about economics is misleading. That is just the way life is.

    From April 2019 o April 2022 the information tech sector of the S&P500 returned 20% annualized, the entire S&P500 returned 15%, and oil and natural gas 11.5%. One might claim that there are other sectors that are making more profits and are doing better for investors - like people with pension plans and retirement accounts. And are contributing more to inflation.

    But it all depends on what one spends money on.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    You're right, and I mostly agree. I casually snagged a meme because it pushed my plutarchs are evil button. I am not in the camp that thinks we should have the same price of gas from one decade to the next. And I agree we need to be way more aggressive in weaning ourselves off fossil fuels both because they'll run out sooner rather than later anyway and because we're trashing the climate and our own survival, etc.

    Oil and Gas industry and oil nations did not have record earnings when the pandemic hit so “record earnings” would be expected after a record drop in demand.
    I don't buy this logic, though. Their profits were either record or not, regardless of their recent past performance. And my point is that the economics of the situation is top heavy in favor of the guys at the top of the corporations, and not just this industry. Including Putin BTW, being the majority 'stock-holder' of the Russian petroleum business. It isn't that I think I should get cheaper gas and it should be plentiful, but that the corporations shouldn't be accruing an obscene level of profit as a function of the status quo. Surely we can have a petroleum industry, divesting and transitioning to alternatives, with investors still getting fat, and people getting efficient transportation etc, but without having to have the evil disparity of income and wealth. There shouldn't be any billionaires while there are hungry and homeless masses. But all that is more an issue of the oligarch plutarch issue than the fossil fuel issues.


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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    We seem to have drifted a bit afield. Here's a review of the OP. It really IS a good summary ---

    David G
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    As with the first one...

    The uploader has not made this video available in your country
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    As with the first one...

    The uploader has not made this video available in your country
    You don't miss much.

    He says there are a number of causes for current inflation. And that the poor are affected most. He is correct.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    He is correct... our present circumstance is a ways away from normal... which makes prognostication even more difficult. And opens the door for all sorts of vested interests to apply their own spin --

    Our Bewildering Economy

    https://prospect.org/economy/our-bewildering-economy/
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    Default Re: The best explanation for inflation I have ever seen

    The OP is worth bumping
    David G
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