Top of Mind Thursday – July 14, 2022: Inflated Hysteria

Inflation is out of control. Prices are rising faster than they have in the last 40 years. We are headedLeverage2Market Logo into a deep recession that threatens our way of life.

Reading the news headlines, you’d think the world was about to end. Granted, there are people in the US struggling to make ends meet with the recent rises in the price of fuel, housing, and food, but overall, things are not so totally terrible here.

For a number of years–especially through the pandemic–the Federal Reserve kept the cost of money artificially low. It might be hard to remember now, but for years there’s been an ongoing chorus of how low interest rates were ruining us. Now, we hear the same thing as rates rise.

Here’s what’s interesting. The unemployment rate today is at 3.6%–a twenty-year low. That’s pretty amazing, considering that exactly 2 years ago, at the height of the pandemic, nearly 15% of people were out of work.

Energy costs are higher now–but the cost of fuel is not nearly as high here as in the rest of the world. Food prices are rising, but we don’t have the shortages of basic staples like grain (or natural gas) that much of the world is experiencing because of the war in Ukraine.

US inflation is now estimated at 9.1%–still much lower than in the ’80s and nothing compared to places like Zimbabwe or Sudan with current rates close to 200%, Turkey at 79%, or Sri Lanka (in total turmoil) at 55%.

We don’t have shortages of food or fuel in America. We can solve pricing blips by being more efficient and innovative. Even with gas at $5+ gallon here, we still get more fill up for our buck than countries like South Korea, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, and the UK. We could go more miles for the same money with even more efficient vehicles–including hybrids and EVs—and help save the planet, too.

It’s estimated we waste 108 billion pounds of food each year–roughly 40% of all food served in America and enough to produce 130 billion meals. Imagine how much better we’d all be if we had ways to use our existing food stores more efficiently and with reduced waste.

Maybe it’s time to deflate the hysteria about prices and focus on pumping up innovation instead. Time to fuel a different discussion.

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