Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone explained that inflation is likely to be more than temporary.
During an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Langone explained that policymakers are “going to take a white-hot fire and throw a five-gallon gas can on top of it.”
“You’re going to have flames so high it’s going to be incredible,” Langone remarked. “I don’t believe this is transitory. I don’t believe this is temporary. The fact is… if this hyperinflation happens, it will be too late to recognize.”
“Maybe you’re going to need this $3.5 trillion thing,” said Langone in reference to the Democrats’ budget reconciliation plan, “but not now. Not now. Watch it. See what we’ve done, what we’ve put in place.”
“What I’m saying right now is, please, please, Congress, be careful. You’re playing with fire. If you’re wrong, the little guy, the guy you say you want to help, is going to get punished severely, and that’s going to be too bad.”
Soon after Langone issued his comments, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the central bank would not taper its aggressive monetary stimulus, despite a year-over-year inflation rate that reached 5.4% in June. According to a statement from the Federal Open Market Committee:
The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.
As Langone implied, higher-than-usual inflation is cutting the real value of Americans’ paychecks — despite a rapid economic recovery from COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession.
The Daily Wire reported on Tuesday that “average hourly earnings” in the United States improved from $29.35 in June 2020 to $30.40 in June 2021 — a 3.6% increase. However, when considering inflation through the Consumer Price Index — which has risen by 5.3% since June 2020 — “real average hourly earnings” have decreased by 1.7% over the past year.
The fall in real wages has been accelerating for most of 2021. As of December, real average hourly earnings had risen year-over-year by 4.2%. In January, February, March, April, and May, the year-over-year rates declined to 3.8%, 3.4%, 1.6%, -1.7%, and -2.6%, respectively.
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