(New York Post) — The mainstream media has finally caught up to what every grocery shopper in America already knows — namely that food and other retail prices are on a tear and look to be headed even higher for the rest of 2011.
Amid news that prices have risen at a 3.9 percent annual rate over the past three months, every major news broadcast this week has led with the alarming news that inflation seems to be taking hold at the checkout counter and at the gas pump, two places where consumers feel it most.
Dramatic pictures of mudslides in Australia and skyscrapers in Shanghai make for better television than static, stoic images of another likely suspect — Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, also known as the ‘The Ben Bernank’ by insiders, whose loose money ways have served to pump trillions of new dollars into the world economy over the past two years.
Bernanke, not surprisingly, bristles at the notion that his weak dollar and easy money policies are increasingly inflationary here and abroad, or that he had any role in the food price inflation that has egged on freedom protesters in the Middle East.
Long gone, too, are the days when the Fed could hide behind fears of deflation to hide its re-inflationary intent.
Corporate America is also feeling the pain of Bernanke’s pump-priming. In the fourth quarter of 2010, 25 percent of all S&P 500 companies saw inflation squeeze their margins, a number that will likely grow when first-quarter earnings start to come out in April.
Still, Chairman Ben continues to keep his head in the sand. In a speech in Paris before the G20 late Friday, the Fed chief went out of his way to defend his bank against accusations of fanning the inflation he continues to deny really exists in the first place.
No mention of the more than $1.6 trillion in new money the Bernanke Fed has pumped out since 2009.
Yes, much to Bernanke’s chagrin, inflation seems to be taking hold much sooner than he would have liked. It now looks like prices are responding faster to the Fed’s policies than the labor market is. As a result, stagflation may be the painful legacy that Bernanke leaves behind.
Last Updated: 5:23 AM, February 20, 2011
Posted: 10:50 PM, February 19, 2011
Source: The New York Post