Joe Biden Should Worry: Inflation Might Be America's Next Economic Challenge

Joe Biden Should Worry: Inflation Might Be America's Next Economic Challenge

The debate over the actual probability of disastrous inflation is raging. 

Key Point: “Those things I don't think are as easy to fix as some people think.”

Federal Reserve official said Thursday that he expects prices for most goods and services to remain elevated through 2022 as consumers who are faced with an influx of pandemic cash race to spend it.

“Those things I don't think are as easy to fix as some people think,” James Bullard told Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo. “We're going to see continuing price pressure well into 2022.”

Bullard’s comments come after the Commerce Department released data last week, which found that the PCE price index in May, the Fed’s closely watched gauge of inflation, is up 3.9 percent from 12 months ago—the largest year-long spike since 2008. Core inflation, which cuts out volatile food and energy prices, reached 3.4 percent from a year ago, a record that hasn’t been hit in nearly 30 years.

“The risk here for us policymakers is that there's still upside risk to inflation,” Bullard said. “Even though we're going to have higher inflation this year, it could even be higher than we anticipated, and it could be higher than we anticipated next year. We have to be ready for that situation.”

Following the central bank’s two-day monetary policymaking meeting last month, Fed officials estimated that their near-zero benchmark interest rate could rise to 0.6 percent by the end of 2023, according to their median protection, a large departure from their predictions in March when officials expected rates to remain steady during that year.

Roughly 72 percent of the 18 Fed officials predicted that short-term rates will increase by the end of 2023, a major jump from those who made projections in March. Seven officials expect that the rate will rise by the end of 2022, and none of the officials think that the rate will increase this year.

“This is not what the market expected,” James McCann, the deputy chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, told CNBC last month. “The Fed is now signaling that rates will need to rise sooner and faster, with their forecast suggesting two hikes in 2023. This change in stance jars a little with the Fed’s recent claims that the recent spike in inflation is temporary.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, however, has repeatedly said that the factors heating up inflation will be temporary.

“These very specific things that are driving up inflation will be temporary,” Powell said. “High inflation readings will start to abate. There's no reason for supply and demand to be out of whack.”

Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill.

Image: Reuters.