Halloween has passed, but there’s another word spooking Americans these days: inflation. Rates have surged more than they have in 30 years, and right before the holidays to boot. Is it actually something to worry about?
That’s what The New Abnormal host Molly Jong-Fast wants to know, so she invited University of Michigan economist and New York Times contributor Justin Wolfers onto the latest episode to find out what he thinks. And according to him, it’s complicated.
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Personally, he’s not too worried—“I think in two years’ time, we will look back on the present discussion and say, ‘Boy, that was much ado about nothing,’” he says—but the solution is specific to the pandemic.
“One of the most important things we can do in fact is vaccinating the globe. When people talk about inflation, we’ll talk about supply chain pressures, and no one has a very clear understanding of what that means. But one part of that is quite literally manufacturing factories in Asia and all sorts of manufacturing in lower-income countries. They get a couple of COVID cases and they just shut down for a month,” Wolfers explains.
And of course, that’s where we run into issues. Along with anti-vaccine sentiment on the right, some groups want the economy to fail under President Joe Biden no matter what. Two groups in particular: conservatives and “crypto bros.”
Wolfers explains: “If they could make the case that the value of the American dollar is falling apart, then the value of their personal portfolios is going to rise enormously. And it’s not that surprising that the first person to use the word hyperinflation was [Twitter CEO] Jack Dorsey, who also is deep in crypto.”
Plus! Sarah Longwell, CEO of Longwell Partners and publisher of The Bulwark, teaches Molly about the “Republican Triangle of Doom” and why she thinks former President Donald Trump has a strong chance of securing his party’s 2024 presidential nomination.