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The Perennial Fear of Inflation

James Suroweicki has a great column about inflation fearmongering:

Then why are people afraid that inflation is about to get out of control? Because they’re always afraid that inflation is about to get out of control. Indeed, many of those arguing today that the Fed should place the threat of inflation front and center were saying the exact same thing last year — in the middle of a recession. […] In a way, there’s something profoundly puritanical, in the original sense of that word, about the inflation hawks: we are always on the verge of sinning, always about to succumb to our worst impulses. Even the rhetoric of inflation — the “debasement” of the currency — carries a moralistic tinge.

Another thing I would note, however, is that if you listen to conservative talk radio there’s actually quite a lot of advertising for gold of various forms that directly preys on listeners’ fear of inflation.

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