Is inflation monster out of cage?

For 40 years, the U.S. has been in a disinflationary environment. Inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index peaked at 13.3% in 1979. It fell rapidly due to a deep recession and deregulation in the early 1980s.  After falling to 3.8% in 1982, it bounced around the 4% level for the rest of the decade.

After a short-lived run-up due the effect of the invasion of Kuwait on oil prices in 1990, inflation fell into the 2% to 3% range for about 20 years before averaging about 2% in the 2010s.

Interest rates fell commensurately. The benchmark 30-year Treasury bond yielded 14% in 1981 vs. 2.6% in 2019.

These price and interest rate changes showed little correlation to any of the usual suspects. The federal budget surpluses of the late 1990s or the trillion deficits post-2008, no difference. Civilian unemployment rate of 10% or 3.5%, no difference. Economic boom, economic bust, no difference.

Fast forward to 2021. The Labor Department just reported that…

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