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so, this is the "good inflation"?
the rise of baghdad barbie
back in the halcyon days of 2003, there was a fellow named mohammed saeed al-sahha.
he was the spokesman for another fellow named saddam hussein. perhaps you’ve heard of him.
he was such a marvel of mendacity than the moniker “baghdad bob” was bestowed upon him as a side-split america breathlessly awaited his daily broadcasts and reveled in the audacious hilarity of his ostentatiously implausible dissembling.
truly, here was a man who could say anything with a straight face and dare i say it, panache.
many memes were born.
it was almost a shame when the invasion he swore was not succeeding overran the press conference he was giving.
say what you will, but the man was an icon. he stood alone when his president was in hiding.
perhaps such crises comprise the formative the crucible in which such spokespeople are made, the only origin story sufficient for such superheroes.
for it came to pass also in america that in a time of great uncertainty and upheaval that a president did vanish from discourse with his people.
president brandon has not held a real press conference in 3 months.
and so the hour begat the woman and thus came the rise of jennifer psaki, america’s very own “baghdad barbie” who took up this mantle of plentiful prevarication and bravely declaimed:
“hold my appletini and watch this”
it’s becoming the greatest show on earth. the far fetched and fanciful facts and astonishing repertoire of non-answers formulated to dodge and derail debate are truly a thing to behold.
it’s an age of prodigies and wonders.
this video cannot help but astonish. the completeness of its inaccuracy is matched only by its surehanded deadpan delivery.
a throne many thought would forever lack a worthy successor may have been filled at last.
never mind that gasoline prices are well above any level since the last time joey b worked in the white house while vehicle miles driven have not even reached 2019 seasonal levels, itself a year in which prices and the pump had been steadily dropping.
ignore the reality that energy prices are spiking because of supply shocks created by policy or the implausibility that natural gas is up 120% this year and 230% since mid 2020 because we’re using more heating or having extra barbecues.
suspend disbelief gentle patrons, for this is theater in the round!
pshaw, that the unemployment rate has dropped but the US labor force remains 3.5 million people smaller than at the end of 2019. certes it is more folks working that have brought these travails upon our land! (if even they are travails at all!)
and trouble not thine pretty little heads that the sharp rise in consumer spending ended around march of 2021 and that recent trends are historically normal (though low for a recovery)
ignore your memories of past times when more consumer buying in the US did not result in “empty shelves” and ask not “before 2020, when was the last time you even saw such a thing that was not the short term, localized result of some natural disaster?”
instead marvel as the white house wonder even makes up numbers like “a year ago, 10% of people were unemployed.”
banish from thought ideas that it was 7.8% (sept) and 6.9% (oct) and the amusing and perhaps telling reduction in the rate of unemployment reduction that began the very month (nov 2020) that biden was elected president.
why, it’s hardly visible on the chart!
we’re sure that’s a coincidence and not a response.
jennifer assures us “inflation is going to come down next year! economists have said that! they are all projecting that!”
so rest easy and heed not admonitions such as these:
you can find an economist that will say anything. some have even argued that increasing the minimum wage causes a rise in employment. hell, many of them think keynesian stimulus works to generate net economic growth… sigh.
they are hardly “all projecting that.” many have other ideas. and “all economists” cannot agree on whether you have to produce something before you can consume it. claiming they all find concord on some issue is a 100% shibboleth for “i am now lying egregiously and making unfounded appeals to authority”
meanwhile, let us not fret that CPI is soaring into the mid 5’s and, more vexxing, that the september producer price index was up over 20% vs a year ago, basically twice the magnitude of anything seen in the last decade.
that you have to go back to the 70’s to find a historical PPI like that is just a blip.
and for goodness sake, why on earth would one suspect that the next stop for those cost hikes is consumer prices?
this is not demand driven, it’s supply and supply-line constraint.
everything from labor to energy to food and transportation has been made artificially scarce by a panoply of bad policy amounting to the greatest concatenation of global own goals since the 1930’s.
cave man economics is taking its toll.
but what if we take them at their word?
well, then we get into a nasty fork in their policy.
the always perceptive economist brian wesbury nails it.
psaki literally just made the case their the administration’s cherished $3.5tn stimulus package is not only not needed, but that it would be counterproductive.
if this inflation is demand driven, the LAST thing we need is stimulus. we need to cool the economy. we need to taper money growth and raise interest rates. (really we just need to get out of the way and let markets do this themselves, but clearly THAT is not in the cards)
so just what are we playing at here? you cannot have it both ways.
if rising prices are good because it’s a sign of robust and healthy consumer activity, then we don’t need and would only overheat further from more stimulus.
if we need stimulus, the inflation cannot be demand driven. demand must be too low.
(though note that if inflation is due to supply constraint, stimulus will have even more effect on price levels as floods of money chase scarce goods. they are really painted into quite the corner here)
there is no coherent case for this policy as a whole.
it’s an ad hoc tap-dance of tactical justifications for mutually exclusive states of the world, a quilt of special interest pandering and pretext that, like so many platforms, makes for great politics but lousy economics.
and people are noticing.
and one jennifer stands alone to face them.
she’s certainly not going to be getting much help from folks like wally adeyemo, the number 2 at treasury.
and so the heavy load of questions and increasingly pointed and poignant opprobrium will fall upon the shoulders of miss jennifer rene psaki and the mettle of our very own baghdad barbie will be put to the test.
will this be her time to shine or will she freeze up like so many other pretenders to such lofty theatrical thrones?
only time will tell, gentle readers. only time will tell…