book excerpt

Book excerpt: Inflation: What it is, Why it’s bad, and How to Fix it

Happy that the apparent value of your house is rising? Exasperated at rising grocery costs?

Those are two sides of the same debased coin, and the face on the coin is that of any politician you wish to name who has voted for policies that lead to a “stealth tax” that drains the value of the dollar.

From Inflation: What it is, Why it’s bad, and How to Fix it by Steve Forbes, Nathan Lewis, and Elizabeth Ames:

Monetary Inflation: The Corruption of Money. Those sneakers that cost $100 a year ago suddenly cost $150. Or your weekly grocery bill used to be $100 and now it’s approaching $200. You wonder is all of this really due to the pandemic? Those grocery bills seem a little too crazy. Besides, things started going up even before COVID. Like that house you bought back in the year 2000 for $600,000. You didn’t spend a dime to renovate it and it’s in need of repair. No one’s flooding into the neighborhood. Plenty of other houses are for sale. Yet in 2021, a little more than two decades later, your house ends up selling for just under $930,000.

You’re thrilled about that “profit,” until you discover that $930,000 in 2021 will barely get you into another house of comparable value to the one you have just sold. You may even have to put a little cash toward buying something new, or else take a step down.

That’s inflation. This brings us to a more concise definition:

Inflation is the distortion of prices that occurs when money loses value.

The Federal Reserve has at last begun to raise the rate it charges member banks. As all those banks pass through the raise to their customers, big-ticket consumer items like loans for houses and new cars skid out of reach. But smaller consumer products will also cost more as large companies are forced to pass along their increased costs of manufacture and transportation, including paying higher salaries and wages.

This book is highly recommended if you want to understand why it feels like you need to take out a second mortgage — which you can’t afford with new higher interest rates — just to pay for everyday expenses like fuel for your car or groceries for your dinner table.