Skip to main content

Ben Hunt Cause of Inflation

One of the economists and financial bloggers I follow is Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory. He picks up on key economic trends and isn't afraid to shed light on ulterior motives and unintended consequences of government and corporation actions. He recently wrote a piece on what he views as the cause of inflation. It is a powerful piece and one to refer to as we uncover the consequences of our actions.

And then came Covid.

And then came the economic response to Covid, which was not only a resumption of full-bore QE and balance sheet expansion (about $2 trillion worth), but also the largest stealing pulling forward of wealth for direct distribution to the already well-off of any government program in the history of man.

Again, I am 1,000% in favor of emergency government action to save an economy in general and to save jobs in particular. What our government did in reaction to the Covid recession and bear market was not that. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), for example, distributed about $800 billion directly to American businesses, ostensibly to cover the cost of maintaining workers on payrolls. In truth, only about one-quarter of that money supported jobs that would have otherwise been lost. More than 70% of the PPP distributions, more than half a trillion dollars, went to the richest 20% of American households. That’s separate from the $680 billion in Federal unemployment benefits and $800 billion in ‘economic impact payments’ (stimulus checks), both of which also saw substantial, although less than PPP, wealth payments flow directly to already well-off households that were in no danger of losing a job or, really, suffering any sort of economic hardship from the Covid pandemic.

For millions of Americans, particularly relatively wealthy Americans like lawyers and doctors and bankers and accountants and consultants and financial advisors, 2020 wasn’t a difficult year financially, it was their best year ever.

This is what drove the enormous post-pandemic acceleration of wealth growth over economic growth.

This is what created resurgent inflation and inflation expectations.

This is what broke the world.

How? Because the hundreds of billions of non-emergency dollars pulled forward from future Americans that went straight into the pockets of Americans who suffered zero economic damage from Covid on top of the hundreds of billions of non-emergency dollars pulled forward from future Americans that went straight into the pockets of relatively well-off Americans from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on top of the TRILLIONS of non-emergency dollars spent by the Fed to artificially lower the price of money and inflate financial assets and channel mal-investment and create the worst decade of productivity growth in the history of the United States and make us FEEL rich without BEING rich … yeah, THAT is what causes inflation.