BlackRock president warns ’entitled generation’ to ‘put their seatbelts on’ over speeding inflation

BlackRock President Rob Kapito says an entire generation of people will have to learn what it means to suffer from shortages as inflation worsens.

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BlackRock President Rob Kapito warned that a “very entitled” generation of people would soon have to face shortages for the first time in their lives as some goods grow scarce because of rising inflation.

“For the first time, this generation is going to go into a store and not be able to get what they want,” Kapito said Tuesday at the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association conference—an annual oil and gas industry convention.

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BlackRock President Rob Kapito warned that a “very entitled” generation of people would soon have to face shortages for the first time in their lives as some goods grow scarce because of rising inflation.

“For the first time, this generation is going to go into a store and not be able to get what they want,” Kapito said Tuesday at the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association conference—an annual oil and gas industry convention.

“We have a very entitled generation that has never had to sacrifice,” Kapito added, Bloomberg reported.

Without stating exactly which generation he was referring to, Kapito said that many people who had always had everything available to them at the supermarket would soon face “scarcity inflation”—the consequence of shortages in anything from workers to oil, housing or silicon chips.

“I would put on your seat belts because this is something that we haven’t seen,” said Kapito, who co-founded Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, along with CEO Larry Fink and retired vice president Susan Wagner.

Inflation is already at a 40-year high in the United States and it is accelerating across the globe as Russia’s war on Ukraine pushes oil prices to record highs, and COVID-19 supply chain issues exacerbate price pressures further.

Global inflation shock

Price inflation in the U.S. hasn’t been this high since the 1980s. A Gallup poll published Tuesday reported that concerns over rising costs are the most pressing worry of just under one-in-five Americans—double the number in January.

The annual inflation rate in the U.S. stands at 7.9%, the highest 12-month change since June 1982. The highest inflation ever reached was in March and April 1980, when the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil peaked at $138.37 a barrel and inflation hit a record 14.6%.

In Europe, which is more exposed to oil price shocks due to its dependence on energy imports and its proximity to Russia and its war on Ukraine, things are equally dire. As the cost-of-living rises across the continent, Spain on Wednesday announced a 9.8% year-on-year rise in consumer prices, an almost 40-year high that shocked many analysts.

The inflation spike “is due to generalized increases in most of [the price basket’s] components,” the country’s statistics office said in a statement. “These included increases in electricity prices, in fuels and oil prices, and in food and non-alcoholic beverages.”

Germany is releasing its inflation data later on Wednesday. It is likely above 7% for March, according to Reuters, as already released regional data from five states has surpassed analyst predictions.

Eurozone inflation data for March is scheduled to be released Friday, and polling indicates it is expected to be above 6%.

A Reuters poll of analysts pointed to an overall annual CPI rate of 6.3% for March and the EU-harmonized inflation figure, or the overall price increase across all EU states, is projected to come in at 6.7%—far above the European Central Bank’s 2% target.

As inflation trickles into supply chains and production, it threatens to undermine the continent’s fragile economic recovery.

France, Germany and Italy are seeing drops in consumer confidence as a result of the price shock—something that is leading analysts to downgrade their economy growth targets.

A slow-growth economy with inflation pushing up the cost of production will almost inevitably lead to shortages at the supermarket.

In an effort to quell fears over rising food and energy prices, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde insisted inflation will soon stop rising. “We know you will see higher inflation this year, there is no question about that,” she said Wednesday. “But we are also seeing some of those factors that fuel inflation today, energy and food, that will stay high. But we don’t forecast them…to continue to move higher and higher.”