Paul Krugman is an economist, Nobel Prize laureate, and New York Times Opinion op-ed columnist. He has roughly 4.5 million followers on X (formerly known as Twitter before Elon Musk lost the last of his marbles). And not long ago, Krugman made a posting on X that you’ll need to see to believe.
Sometimes, reality looks more like satire than satire itself. Krugman’s tweet declared, “The war on inflation is over. We won, at very little cost.” Along with that, the Nobel Prize winner attached a chart, presumably to support his point:
Courtesy: Paul Krugman
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, whenever possible. I scoured Krugman’s tweets in hopes of a follow-up posting indicating that he was just being facetious.
Regrettably, I found nothing of the sort. Unless this is pure trolling, Krugman is dead serious. He thinks that the “war on inflation is over.” I hate to side with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, but at least he understands that product and service prices are still unmanageably high for hardworking Americans.
Let me further dissect Krugman’s brief but packed posting. “We won,” supposedly. Who, exactly, does “we” refer to? People of substantial means, such as Mr. Krugman? If so, then “they” certainly won, but only at the expense of the middle and lower classes and “at little cost” to themselves.
For the rest of us, the cost has been staggering and persistent. In case Krugman didn’t get the memo, the cost of rent in the U.S. jumped 7.4% year over year in September and the cost of housing rose 5.6%. Meanwhile, you only need to take a stroll down the local grocer’s aisle to see what’s happened to food prices.
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I surely don’t need to spend much time discussing energy costs, with the crude oil price closing in on $90 per barrel recently. And as for car payments and transportation affordability in general, the chart shown above tells the tale better than I ever could.
Clearly, though, Krugman did get the memo. The chart he posted with his tweet specifically excluded food, energy, shelter, and used-car inflation – in other words, the costs that affect the middle and lower classes the most.
I considered replying to Krugman’s tweet with something pointed and humorous, but plenty of people beat me to the punch. My favorite one was from Tim Murtaugh: “This is fantastic news for all Americans who don’t need food, a place to live, or fuel & electricity.”
Or maybe, the best response came from Michael Lebowitz, CFA, who posted a satiric inflation chart that’s no less absurd than Krugman’s:
Courtesy: Michael Lebowitz, CFA
Funny as this chart is, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the government – or just as likely, an economist who serves as the government’s mouthpiece – posts a chart just like this one someday, but isn’t even joking.
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