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If you are too young to remember what happened in the US during the 1970s, you should consider sparing a moment to read up on the events that occurred in that decade because today’s economic conditions are becoming alarmingly similar to what our country experienced back then. In a recent article, Bloomberg reported aggressive hikes in commodity prices, and the upward trajectory is set to continue as the economy tries to come back to life. “From steel and copper to corn and lumber, commodities started 2021 with a bang, surging to levels not seen for years,” says the report. “With the U.S. economy pumped up on fiscal stimulus, there’s little reason to expect a change in direction”.
That’s the same forecast shared by the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Greg Abel, who argued that it all goes back to raw materials and supply levels have been worryingly low right now. As a consequence, the price of everything is soaring and several industries are losing the ability to deliver the end products. On top of that, the Texas storm has taken down several petrochemical plants that the entire country is very dependent upon, so we’re seeing the effects of that crisis being translated into higher gasoline prices and scarce supplies of petroleum products.
Sadly, that’s not the end of it. According to Council of Economic Advisers chair Cecilia Rouse, “there is going to be supply chain disruptions. That will cause some transitory increases in prices.” However, her statement spurred a heated debate amongst economists and financial experts, on how the administration can surely affirm this period of inflation will just be “transitory” if they keep engaging in inflationary policies and unnecessary spending. Just like in the 70s, the rise in prices was supposed to be a “transitory” thing, but then inflation persisted for almost a decade.
The veteran investor and billionaire, Warren Buffet, said that the US economy is “red hot”, and inflationary pressures are hitting multiple sectors and major companies across the country. “We’re seeing very substantial inflation,” said the 90-year-old business tycoon. “The costs are just up, up, up,” he exclaimed, underscoring that even though American consumers have been spending more, that didn’t happen because of wage growth, but due to the extraordinary amount of stimulus money. “It’s very interesting. People are raising prices to us and it’s being accepted,” he stated, adding that now that “people have money in their pocket, they pay the higher prices”. “It’s almost a buying frenzy,” Warren pointed out.
When the population starts accepting rising costs and companies realize they can keep passing price increases on and having them to stick, that means the surge in prices will not be just a “transitory” thing, no matter what the administration, the Fed, or the Treasury have said. And when the money faucet is finally turned off, Americans will be once again facing huge inflationary price bubbles while the value of their dollars sharply collapses.
US consumers are already seeing how this staggering inflation is affecting food staples in grocery stores. For instance, corn prices were up by more than 30% in 2021 and as it is used in hundreds of different products, that will dramatically impact the food budgets of millions of families. Ed Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, a trading, currency data, and analytics solutions firm, told in an interview that Americans “should brace for higher prices” because businesses won’t hesitate to pass the increases onto consumers.
In another recent piece, McDonald pointed out that “the oldest trick in the retailer book is back,” signaling that “shrinkflation” is intensifying. Essentially, this is known as a “creative” method of masking higher prices by shrinking products in size so that consumers do not notice they are induced to consume and spend more. The report published on The Bear Traps notes that big chains like Costco are now charging the same price for paper towels but the roll has 20 fewer sheets. Although it might not seem like a lot, “the stealthy decline of 20 sheets per roll of towels from 160 to 140 for the “same price” is the functional equivalent of 14.3% inflation,” the TBT revealed.
But despite the depth of the issues we have just reported, most Americans are happy with their stimulus checks since they aren’t fully aware of how this money is actively helping to crush their purchasing power. We have just been through one of the most chaotic years in all U.S. history, and to say things are going to get better would be a major misconception of the times we are living in. We must get ready because very dark days are looming on the horizon, and those waiting to be saved by our leaders are going to be bitterly disappointed.