Employees are being penalized resulting from rising costs. The true offender is company greed | Robert Reich

The US Federal Reserve is aiming its mighty fireplace within the foyer however the forest is burning. In consequence, folks can drown even when their home catches fireplace.

This sums up the unhappy state of anti-inflation in America.

On Wednesday, the Fed – America’s central financial institution – raised rates of interest by 3 %, and signaled a rise in inflation is coming, probably as quickly as September.

This adopted a quarter-point enhance in March, one other half-point in Could, and three-quarters of some extent in June.

On Thursday, the Commerce Division introduced that the US financial system has contracted for the second consecutive quarter.

Whereas it is not technically a recession (economists out and in of the White Home spent many of the previous a number of days coining the phrase “recession”), there is no doubt that the US financial system is slowing.

That is, to place it mildly, absurd.

Inflation is widespread all over the world – the results of pent-up demand from greater than two years of pandemic.n.d of restricted assets for every part from laptop chips to wheat, resulting from issues about growing the nation’s financial system.

Add in Putin’s struggle in Ukraine that raises international vitality and meals costs, and China’s lockdown towards Covid, and also you get the proper fireplace.

That is not all. Large firms are busy elevating their costs as a result of shoppers have fewer selections. Firms are utilizing inflation as a hedge.

Costs on the gasoline pump have decreased barely over the previous month however are nonetheless spectacular. (Right here in California, I am paying greater than $6 a gallon.)

On the identical time, the large oil hit the gusher. Exxon not too long ago reported a quarterly revenue of $17.9bn, greater than thrice what it earned final yr. Chevron’s revenue tripled to $11 billion.

America’s two largest oil firms aren’t pouring their income into vitality, inexperienced or in any other case. They’re shopping for again their very own shares to reward traders and executives.

Or think about massive firms that promote shopper items, akin to Proctor & Gamble (maker of every part from Gillette razors to Tide detergent).

On Friday, P&G reported one other fourth quarter of rising income regardless of rising prices of merchandise and transportation. How was it in a position to do that? By elevating its costs an excessive amount of.

In the meantime, half of the current rise in grocery costs comes from beef, pork and rooster. Solely 4 large firms management these markets, and so they have been planning to extend their costs to increase income – right here once more, utilizing “inflation” as an excuse.

If the market was aggressive, firms would hold their costs low to stop rivals from grabbing prospects. However they’re elevating costs at the same time as they rake in file income.

The Fed’s firehose will not be hitting any of those.

In the meantime, we’re informed to not fear as a result of the labor market is doing properly.


There are two issues to the labor market – jobs and wages. The variety of jobs is growing properly. Let’s hope this continues. However hourly wages have fallen, when adjusted for inflation.

If the Fed continues to boost rates of interest – even when the financial system avoids an official “recession” – many employees will fall additional behind.

The approach to life of just about everybody who borrows cash is getting worse. Because of the Fed’s hikes, the speed of rate of interest hikes has reached 17.25% (up from 16.34% in March, earlier than the Fed began elevating rates of interest). Charges on pupil loans, automobile loans and residential loans are additionally growing.

The federal government ought to use the firehose higher to focus on the fireplace, which is much less burdensome down 80%.

First, put a short lived tax on large oil, on big retailers of shopper items and on large ag. This would scale back their incentive to interact in worth hikes.

Bolder antitrust enforcement – even threats to dam mergers and break up massive firms – might additionally scale back their willingness to boost costs.

If Congress refuses to permit the federal government to make use of its advertising and marketing energy to decrease drug costs, large pharma is an professional on short-term worth controls. (FDR managed costs by an govt order.)

Lastly, greater taxes on the rich — such because the Democrats appear able to decrease — will assist scale back general demand, thereby extinguishing a few of the fires of inflation.

The Fed’s solely firefighting instrument – rate of interest hikes – is aimed within the fallacious path. It’s hitting the working folks not the businesses which can be accountable for the worth enhance (over and above international commodity costs).

We have to combat inflation, not working folks.

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