In the past ninety years, the U.S. has had only one sustained bout with high inflation—in the seventies. That track record should engender some faith that central bankers are going to be responsible, and that a healthy industrial economy isn’t prone to regular inflationary spirals. It hasn’t. Instead, we’re always about to relive 1974 all over again, which is why last year, as oil prices rose, we were bombarded with references to “stagflation.” In a way, there’s something profoundly puritanical, in the original sense of that word, about the inflation hawks: we are always on the verge of sinning, always about to succumb to our worst impulses. Even the rhetoric of inflation—the “debasement” of the currency—carries a moralistic tinge.It does seem that we're reliving a peculiar phase of economic populism, in which inflation, real or imagined, is the product of "Sinful" policies. Which makes me wonder why the moralizers seldom seem to give credit to "Godly" policies when the economy is doing well.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
James Surowiecki isn't buying what appears to be "Moral" warnings against inflation: