The Biden administration has insisted rising inflation will be mild and temporary. But new data show consumer price inflation rose even more last month to reach the highest level since 1990.
The latest Consumer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday morning showed prices rose at least 6.2% between October 2020 and October 2021. That’s the largest year-over-year increase in more than 30 years. The CPI reports prices rose nearly 1% in a single month, from September 2021 to October 2021.
November 10, 2021
Some of the most critical goods and services show the biggest price increases in this new dataset. For example, energy prices rose a whopping 30% year over year. Food prices rose 5.3%, gas rose nearly 50%, used cars rose 26.4%, and so on.
BREAKING: U.S. inflation was up 6.2% in October over a year ago. That’s the highest inflation in 31 years.— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) November 10, 2021
Inflation was up 0.9% in Oct. alone, a much higher increase than 0.4% in Sept. and 0.3% in August.
Prices are rising for food, energy, shelter, used cars and new cars.
This all might sound abstract, but its importance for families can’t be understated. Before this latest dataset, inflation already cost the typical family $175 a month in increased prices. Now, it will be costing families even more.
Of course, the CPI is only one inflation metric of many, and others show more modest inflation levels. However, the CPI most closely tracks the goods and services typical consumers buy, such as food, showing the prices families care about the most are on the rise.
The question arises: Who is to blame?
It’s good politics to blame the Biden administration. Indeed, many Republicans have used these concerning inflation increases to argue against the president’s plans to spend trillions on massive expansions of the welfare state and green-energy schemes. While these plans are indeed deeply flawed on many grounds, federal spending isn’t the main reason for the inflation problem — monetary policy is.
Citizens upset over inflation should not look at Congress but at the Federal Reserve, the central bank that controls U.S. currency.
“While the rate of inflation might differ from year to year due to aggregate supply or demand shocks, the long-run trend rate of inflation is ultimately determined by monetary policy,” economist William J. Luther told me in a recent interview. “The [Federal Reserve] can control inflation.”
To “stimulate” the economy amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Fed engaged in a massive expansion of money supply — basically, it (digitally) printed a bunch of new money. As my Foundation for Economic Education colleague Peter Jacobsen, an economist, has explained, “If more dollars chase the exact same goods, prices will rise.”
The below graph shows just how drastic the Fed’s money supply expansion has been:
Ultimately, rising prices of this magnitude represent a grave problem for millions of families. The temptation will be to blame President Joe Biden, who certainly has played at least some small part in this concerning trend. Yet, we won’t solve this problem until we concentrate our criticism on the real culprit behind our inflation malaise: the Fed and its reckless monetary policy.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and a Washington Examiner contributor. Subscribe to his YouTube channel or email him at email@example.com.