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Kevin O’Leary on Inflation: You Printed $7 Trillion in 30 Months. What Did you Think Would Happen?

From the Foundation for Economic Education

The Highest Inflation In Generations

Kevin O’Leary bluntly explained why Americans are experiencing the highest inflation in generations: “The printing presses have gone insane. That’s why we have inflation in the first place.”

By printing presses, O’Leary is talking about the Federal Reserve. The central bank has been expanding the supply of money for decades, and the clip has picked up in recent years. Nothing, however, has compared to the monetary expansion that occurred during the pandemic, something Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently admitted in a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley.

“You flooded the system with money,” the CBS journalist said.

“Yes, we did,” Powell responded.

This is what O’Leary is getting at: “Flooding the system with money” is what drove inflation to historic highs, and the result was always an obvious one.

“For all the talk of inflation, you print $6.72 trillion in thirty months, what the hell did you think was going to happen?” O’Leary says. “Of course there’s going to be inflation.”

What Is Inflation?

Money creation is the obvious driver of price inflation.

  • For centuries, inflation was defined essentially as an increase in the money supply. Basic economics holds that if you expand the money supply without expanding goods and services, prices will rise. So that was the definition of inflation: an increase in the supply of money.
  • Economists in the twentieth century added a second definition, however, calling inflation “a general and sustained increase in prices.” We can see from this definition that what separates inflation from simple price increases is that they are broad and sustained.

Some economists prefer the older definition of inflation, and Henry Hazlitt, author of Economics in One Lesson, can help us see why.

“Inflation is an increase in the quantity of money and credit. Its chief consequence is soaring prices,” Hazlitt explained.

Hazlitt argues that rising prices are the consequence of inflation, which is an increase in the money supply.

“I prefer the older definition,” Pace University economist Joseph Salerno explained in a lecture on hyperinflation. “I think it’s more useful.”

It’s not difficult to see why some economists see the traditional definition of inflation as superior. It gets right to the cause of price increases (an expansion of the money supply), while the new definition focuses on a symptom of inflation (“a general and sustained increase in prices”).

Read the full article by Jon Miltimore at Foundation for Economic Education.

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