Tags: inflation | economy | us | fed

Inflation Is On Its Way

By    |   Monday, 19 March 2012 03:56 PM EDT

You've probably heard the warning for years. Inflation is coming.

The Fed has spent the last several years printing money and injecting massive amounts of dollars into the economy. Interest rates have been kept near zero since 2009 and the Fed has pledged to keep them there until 2014.

Plus, the central bank has injected money into the system through bailouts and backstops along with QE, QE2, and Operation Twist.

Editor's Note: Meltdown on Main Street Coming, Prepare Now

By some measures, the money supply in this country has increased 10 percent to 20 percent in just the past year. It's economics 101 that when the increase in the money supply greatly exceeds the increase in goods available, it will ultimately cost more dollars to buy the same thing.

By some measures, inflation is already here.

Look at the price of commodities. Gold has increased from $1000 an ounce in 2009 to nearly $1700 today. Gold was below $300 about 10 years ago. Crude oil prices have spiked from below $40 during the financial crisis to $108 today. As well, prices of corn and grain and other food commodities soared to all time highs last year.

Much of this rise in commodity prices can be attributed to the falling value of the dollar. Commodities are priced in dollars and the U.S. dollar index has lost one third of its value in the past decade as government deficits and debt has continued to mount.

Yearly budget deficits have been more than a trillion dollars every year since 2008.

Monthly deficits are now close to what yearly deficits were in the middle of last decade. The U.S. owes close to $16 trillion in public debt and an estimated $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities to Medicare and Social Security.

But, according to the Fed, there is no inflation.

As a matter of fact, the Fed is still considering a possible QE3 if the economy slows later in the year. Fed  Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly stated that inflation risk is low right now and he's more worried about unemployment. And certain numbers bare him out.

Editor's Note: Meltdown on Main Street Coming, Prepare Now

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 1.63 percent in 2010 and 2.93 percent for 2011. These numbers are below the historical average CPI of 3.38 percent between 1914 and 2010.

Lower housing prices and falling wages have been holding back inflation. In this tough economy with unemployment still above 8 percent companies are still reluctant to pass higher costs on to customers. As well, many companies are hording cash because of the uncertain environment.

Perhaps the economy is still sufficiently sluggish that such a huge amount of monetary stimulus still isn't inflationary. But, if the recovery gets stronger, things could change. Strong stimulus will be created by the private sector and combine with the enormous amount of dollars floating around already from the Fed's activities. It may be quite difficult for the Fed to pull back stimulus to avoid higher prices because once inflation is already evident, it might be too late.

Donald Trump recently predicted "massive inflation" in the years ahead.

While inflation, in terms of CPI, isn't a big problem yet – stay tuned.

Remember, it was clear that housing prices were inflated long before the housing market collapsed. As well, it was technology stocks were way overvalued in the mid to late 1990s, long before that bubble burst.

About the Author: Tom Hutchinson

Tom Hutchinson is a member of the Moneynews Financial Brain Trust. Click Here to read more of his articles. He is also the editor of The High Income Factor. Discover more by Clicking Here Now.

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Monday, 19 March 2012 03:56 PM
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