US inflation condition

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Acknowledging its initial mistake, the Fed and the government are now taking the necessary steps to curb inflation. And the situation is getting trickier for the government as the country’s mid-term election inches closer. Some economies are using different approaches to tackle inflation.

IN the middle of last year, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) thought the inflation situation would be transitory, expecting it to peak for a few months, then receding close to its 2% target.

One of the arguments was that pent-up demand, which was induced by the multiple months of lockdowns, and supply chain disruptions where global trades were halted, would normalise over the short-term.

This was when inflation was averaging at 5.4% between June 2021 and September 2021.

However, until the end of the year, inflation did not recede due to persistent imbalances in supply and demand. And as the US economy reopened and more people returned to the labour market, the economy recovered, and demand increased. But supply was not able keep up with demand as some parts of the economy were not fully operational.

Some of major trading partners were still having problems with the spread of Covid-19 and access to vaccines, and this had created problems for the United States, since it imports most of its goods and services.

In fairness, the high inflation situation is a global phenomenon.

Inflation rates have doubled in 37 out of the 44 advanced economies over the past two years, according to a Pew Research Centre analysis.

Acknowledging its initial mistake, the Fed and the government are now taking the necessary steps to curb inflation. And the situation is getting trickier for the government as the country’s mid-term election inches closer.

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Some economies are using different approaches to tackle inflation.

Most of the developing economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea preferred to target prices directly via price controls and subsidies.

Advanced economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia used their monetary policy to keep inflation in check.

Overall, high inflation in the United States is caused by both supply and demand factors.

Apart from the imbalances in the economy, the Russia-Ukraine war has been the other contributing factor since March.

Global commodity prices jumped with Brent rising 15.5%, peaking above US$125 (RM553) per barrel – the highest price since the global financial crisis.

This caused energy prices in the United Sattes to spike.

Specifically, energy prices surged by 29.9%, which bumped up transportation-related cost much by 21.4% while housing utilities increased by 15.7%.

It is worse for most Americans who need to drive to work. Petrol prices skyrocketed by 58.5% to US$4.77 (RM21) per gallon (3.8 litres) as of the first week of this month.

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