President Joe Biden looked far beyond America's borders when describing the inflation challenge during remarks on the economy.

"Just about every country in the world is grappling with higher prices right now as they recover from the pandemic," Biden said at the White House, pointing out price increases in countries such as Canada and Britain. "This is a worldwide challenge, a natural byproduct of a worldwide pandemic shutting down economies that are now coming back to life."


But Biden also stressed that Americans have led the global economic recovery and have more money in their pockets than at this time last year or in 2019. He said families have up to $350 more per month than they did before the pandemic, even when adjusting for inflation, in large part thanks to the child tax credit.

"We're the only leading economy in the world where household income and the economy as a whole are stronger than they were before the pandemic," he said.

But inflation is now above 6% year-over-year in the United States, the highest it has been in more than 30 years, and continued anxieties about spending and supply chain issues are contributing to the president's low approval ratings.

While Biden said that "only Santa Claus" can promise every person will get every gift they want on time this Christmas, high-profile backlogs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are easing thanks to a flurry of policies, including 24-hour operations and incentives to move containers at night and on the weekend. Business at the ports overall is up 16% compared to last year, Biden added.

The president met Monday with CEOs from big retail chains and major manufacturers, including Best Buy, Food Lion, Qurate Retail Group, Etsy, Mattel, Walmart, Samsung, Kroger, and CVS Health.

During that meeting, Biden spoke about the direct issue of getting goods to market and the challenges posed by the newly named omicron variant of COVID-19, as well as the wider effect it may have on the economy. He emphasized the progress since last Thanksgiving thanks to the widespread availability of vaccines.

“Consumer spending has recovered to where it was headed before the pandemic," Biden told the business leaders. "Early estimates are that Black Friday sales were up nearly a third since last year, and in-store sales were up by even more than that."

The president also predicted a drop in gas prices of about 25 cents per gallon in the next few weeks, hoping to ease another concern people are feeling when it comes to their economic outlook.

Later in his speech, Biden took shots at Republicans who oppose the Build Back Better bill being debated in the Senate, saying they were "rooting for higher costs for American families just to score a few political points."

Wednesday, he reiterated that the omicron variant of COVID-19 should be met with concern rather than panic and said the best protection against it is a booster shot for those who are eligible.


In response to a question about how the variant could affect the economy, Biden said it's too early to tell.

"We'll know in the next several weeks not only how transmissible it is but how dangerous it is and what damage it does," Biden said. "Most importantly, we'll know whether the vaccines we have are capable of dealing with this variant, particularly the boosters we want everyone to get. I think the jury is still out."