The only good news in todays inflation report for October is that the Fed is not overreacting to it. Life is not fair, and the spike in consumer pricesfor reasons that have nothing to do with Bidens policiesis a blow to the Democrats.
Consumer prices are up 4.6 percent over a year ago, and almost a full point in just a month; but in highly visible sectors such as retail gasoline, they are up a lot more. Gas prices are up almost 50 percent over a year ago, and with winter coming, home heating will be more expensive, too.
Most of this is the result of long-term policy failures by Republicans and other conservatives. The supply chain bottlenecks that are creating spot shortages and raising prices across a range of products reflect a brew of too much globalization, too much deregulation, and too little public management of logistics as a coherent national system. All of this, however, is hard to explain in a sound bite.
Even The New York Times ran a front-page feature story correctly flagging a national shortage of truck drivers as a key choke point in the supply chain crisis, noting the long hours and lousy pay, but without mentioning the words trucking deregulation or Teamsters once. Back in the day, long-haul trucking was a good job and there were no shortages of drivers.
By the same token, if we had gotten more serious about domestic renewable energy much earlier, we would not be at the mercy of swings in the global price of energy, magnified by the speculations of futures markets.
The trouble is that people dont want subtle explanations of past policy failures. They want prices to subside.
Biden has some leverage to make the ports work more smoothly in the near term, but most of these fixes will take years, not months. And fully funding Build Back Better will help pay to bring home supply chains sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, we can be grateful for small favors, the most important of which is the Feds refusal to join the clamor for higher interest rates, which would only make the situation worse by dousing a still-fragile recovery.