I Warned the Democrats About Inflation

   < < Go Back

by Steven Rattner, Treasury secretary in the Obama administration,

from The New York Times,

Enough already about “transitory” inflation. Last Wednesday’s terrible Consumer Price Index news shifts our inflation prospects strongly into the “embedded” category: Prices are up 6.2 percent from a year ago, the largest increase in 30 years.

While not likely to morph into the double-digit inflation I covered for The New York Times four decades ago, prices may well rise fast enough to trigger higher interest rates. Higher financing costs make it more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow, which, in turn, throttles growth.

For the Biden administration, which has long insisted that prices would rise far more slowly, inflation is now its biggest challenge.

How could an administration loaded with savvy political and economic hands have gotten this critical issue so wrong?

They can’t say they weren’t warned — notably by Larry Summers, a former Treasury secretary and my former boss in the Obama administration, and less notably by many others, including me. We worried that shoveling an unprecedented amount of spending into an economy already on the road to recovery would mean too much money chasing too few goods.

More From The New York Times (subscription required):