The case for economic optimism is over

In theory, inflation is the Federal Reserve’s problem to solve. But these new numbers show just how ineffective the Fed, which has pivoted to an aggressive stance and started hiking interest rates, has been so far in the face of today’s particular inflationary pressures. When the Fed raises rates, that ought to translate to reduced demand for housing and cars and other things that require borrowing — but to date, Jerome Powell & Co. haven’t made much of a dent, even in those areas. The monthly cost of shelter, which includes equivalent rent, actually rose in May. The problem with housing is the national shortage of supply, and it’s not like the central bank has the tool to make people build more homes. In Manhattan, the average monthly price of shelter rose to a new insane high of $4,000 a month. And because of the statistical quirk in how the Labor Department measures rent, the problem is probably far worse than today’s numbers suggest…

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The worry here is that the inflationary mode of this economy is not going away. “Inflation keeps climbing and it’s becoming more entrenched,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a statement. The report gives the Fed more of a reason to keep hiking its interest rates aggressively, even though the consequences of that may be less and less effective and only lead to greater joblessness, which we’re already starting to see. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she doesn’t think the U.S. is heading toward a recession. Whether she’s right is anyone’s guess, but for most people, the economy is going to feel worse for a long time.

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