Well, things are getting interesting in the US. The Federal Reserve started hiking interest rates in April 2022 and its decisions are underpinned by an theoretical framework that suggests the unemployment rate is above what it thinks is the natural rate (the rate where inflation is stable). So the rate hikes are meant to slow spending and increase the unemployment rate and cause price setters to stop accelerating prices up. Except the data isn’t obeying the theory and inflation is falling despite the rate hikes rather than because of them. This is another demonstration of how flawed the dominant mainstream economics has become. Last Friday (February 3, 2023), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – January 2023 – which revealed on-going and very robust employment growth, rising participation and falling unemployment. These are good signs for American workers. Further, as inflation is now in decline, most sectors recorded both modest nominal wages growth is some real wages growth – another virtuous sign. The latest data is certainly not consistent with the Federal Reserve type narratives. The point is that the labour market is not behaving at all like the assumed model deployed by the Federal Reserve.
This week, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) released the results of an independent review into its coverage of economic matters – Review of the impartiality of BBC coverage of taxation, public spending, government borrowing and debt – which was completed in November 2022. The problem is that the Investigation conducted by this Review, while interesting and providing some good analysis, misses the overall source of the bias that our public broadcasters have fallen into. The problem is not that they might be favouring political positions of one party or another. Rather, the implicit framing and language they use to discuss economic matters is largely flawed itself. And the journalists who uncritically use these concepts and terms just perpetuate the fiction and mislead their audiences.
So the IMF has come late to the transitory inflation party. What was obvious months ago is now at the forefront of IMF forecasts. Better late than never I suppose. It is becoming clear that most indicators are still not predicting a major demand-side collapse in most nations. Growth has moderated slightly and the forward indicators are looking up. At the same time, the inflation data around the world is suggesting the price pressures have peaked and lower inflation rates are expected. Real wages continue to fall, which means that the inflationary pressures were not being driven by wages. So no wage-price spiral mechanism at play. And PMI data and related indicators (such as shipping costs, etc) suggest the supply constraints which drove the inflationary pressures are easing. So has all this been the work of the interest rate rises imposed on nations by central bankers (bar Japan)? Not likely. The rising interest rates and falling inflation are coincidental rather than causal. Which means the damage to low income debt holders and the bank profits boom from the higher rates was for what?