Covid-19 could lead to the return of inflation—eventually

INFLATION IN THE rich world resembles a fairy-tale beast. Older members of society frighten younger ones with stories of the creature’s foul deeds, but few serious people expect to see one and some doubt it ever existed. Although high inflation seemed a fixture of the economic landscape in the 1970s, changes to policy and the structure of the global economy since have ushered in four decades of ever meeker growth in prices. As covid-19 shutters businesses and leaves supermarket shelves bare, some economists fret that the pandemic could lead to inflation making an unwelcome return. Though the future is shrouded in more uncertainty than ever, inflation seems unlikely to rear its head—until, perhaps, the world’s struggle with covid-19 nears its end.

Worries about soaring prices start with the observation that virus-fighting measures choke off production. Crudely put, inflation is the result of too much money chasing too few goods. At present the amount of goods and services available for purchase is tumbling. Many service industries are shut down. The virus is playing havoc with the supply of some products. On April 12th Smithfield Foods, a meat-processing firm, said it would close a plant producing nearly 5% of American pork, after more than 200 workers fell ill; it has since shut down others. Workers involved in the logistics...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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