The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.
The debt hawks say federal deficit spending will cause inflation. History says they are wrong. There is no post-1971 (end of the gold standard) relationship between federal deficits and CPI. (See: INFLATION) In fact, despite massive deficit spending, the Fed today is most worried about deflation.
Nevertheless, I now believe inflation has become a threat.
In a letter dated October 1, 2010, John Mauldin said:
“John Hofmeister is the former president of Shell Oil and now CEO of the public-policy group Citizens for Affordable Energy. He paints a very stark picture of the future of energy production in the US unless we change our current policies. First, because of the aftereffects of the moratorium. It is his belief that the drilling moratorium will effectively still be in place until at least the middle of 2012. There won’t even be new rules until the end of 2011, and then the lawsuits start.
“Gulf oil production will be down by up to 1 million barrels a day. Imported oil is now 67% of oil usage but will go to 75% by 2012. He thinks crude oil will be up to $125 and gasoline between $4-$5 at the pump. And it will only get worse.
“He describes the problem with the electricity from coal production. The average coal plant is 38 years old, with a planned-for life of 50 years. Our energy production capability is rapidly aging, and we are not updating it fast enough.
“He argues that the fight between the right and the left has given us 37 years without a realistic energy policy, as policy gets driven by two-year political cycles but good energy planning takes decades. There are 13 government agencies that regulate the energy industry, with conflicting mandates that change very two years. There are 22 congressional committees that have some level of involvement and oversight of the energy industry.”
Why is this important for inflation? Because although federal deficits do not correlate with inflation, energy prices do. And if we have the shortages Mr. Hofmeister suggests (a big “if” as oil supply is notoriously difficult to predict), they will translate into higher overall consumer prices. Yes, new oil sources are being discovered daily. And yes, progress is being made in developing alternative energy. But the modernization of huge populations in China, India, Russia and other less developed countries, is sure to increase world oil consumption, massively.
Inflation can be prevented and cured by raising interest rates. But our government is fixated on the false, debt-hawk belief that federal deficits cause inflation. So the political “cure” will be to reduce federal spending and/or to increase federal taxes, either of which, history shows, will devastate our economy.
In summary, the next inflation will come from energy shortages, which the debt hawk government will deal with by causing a recession.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity. There is widespread belief the stimuli didn’t work. I am reminded of the man whose house was burning. His neighbor showed up with a garden hose and actually was able to reduce the flames, but only somewhat. The neighbor wanted to call the fire department, who would bring out the big hoses, but the man told him to stop, because “Obviously, water doesn’t put out fires.”