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Debunking 5 top inflation myths

The labor market is largely strong right now, but inflation continues to be a pressing economic The reasons for escalating inflation are hotly debated,…

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This article was originally published by Economic Policy Institute

The labor market is largely strong right now, but inflation continues to be a pressing economic concern.

The reasons for escalating inflation are hotly debated, but some theories gaining traction have not been grounded in the data. EPI research sets the record straight on the causes of inflation—and how policymakers can best restrain it. Below, we debunk 5 top inflation myths.

  • Myth #1: Workers’ wage growth is driving inflation. Nominal wage growth—while faster relative to the recent past—has lagged far behind inflation, meaning that labor costs have been dampening, not amplifying, inflationary pressures all along.
  • Myth #3: Federal relief and recovery measures overheated the economy and fed inflation. Evidence from the past 40 years suggests strongly that profit margins should shrink and the share of corporate income going to labor compensation should rise as unemployment falls and the economy heats up. But the exact opposite pattern has happened so far in the recovery—casting much doubt on inflation expectations rooted simply in claims of macroeconomic overheating. In short, the labor market is strong, but it’s not overheating.
  • Myth #4: Removing import tariffs would be a major tool to fight inflation. Tariffs were put in place far before early 2021 when inflation began rising, and eliminating tariffs could not significantly restrain it. Further, removing tariffs would not be costless. Tariff removal could result in job losses, plant closures, cancellations of planned investments, and further destabilization of the domestic manufacturing base, which would increase domestic dependence on unstable import supply chains.

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