Peak “Stagflation” – November Commentary

What is Stagflation?  Is the US economic environment traveling toward Stagflation?  The percentage of news articles mentioning “stagflation” is nearly double (37%) the previous high readings which occurred in the midst of two prior recessions of 2008 and 2001 (both at 21% – see chart at bottom of article).  The term stagflation combines two concepts – stagnation and inflation.  This condition takes place when economic growth stalls (or stagnates) at the same time inflation is elevated (or rising).  Accompanying stagflation is unhealthy levels of unemployment.  It occurs when some force or condition increases the cost of production, such as an increase in oil prices (1970s) or a supply-chain disruption (2021) giving rise to the prospects of slowing or stalling economic growth and rising inflation (higher prices).  A “supply-side shock” creates shortages of product (could be many products or materials), wherein the price of products rise quickly due to scarcity.  Similar to the 1970s, unemployment and availability of workers (today) add to the challenge of slowing economic growth accompanied with rising prices (inflation).  If this condition exists too long, it becomes “sticky”, and fighting or managing it becomes challenging.

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