How can inflation actually be solved?
The Federal Reserve has one big move: interest rate hikes. And the central bank just hiked rates by three-quarters of a point for the third consecutive time this week. But its previous rate hikes haven’t quite done the trick yet.
In August, the annual inflation rate hit 8.3%, according to the Consumer Price Index released last week. Month-over-month percent changes in the overall CPI inflation rate are lower than earlier in 2022, but many experts wonder if it’s enough—especially as the prices of basic expenses like food and shelter continue to rise.
Jamie Dimon has another idea.
He was testifying before Congress on Thursday with other Wall Street CEOs, and fielded a typically folksy line of questioning from Senator John Kennedy (R-La.). “I don’t want to brag about the expensive places I’ve been, but the night before last I went to the grocery store. Inflation is gutting the American people like a fish,” Kennedy said Thursday during a Senate committee hearing with the CEOs of seven of the biggest U.S. banks.
Kennedy’s comment elicited chuckles in the room, but it’s true—grocery prices are a runaway expense for most American consumers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August food at home index, which calculates price changes on a broad basket of groceries, jumped 13.5% over the last 12 months. That’s the largest annual increase since 1979.
“Now we know what our Federal Reserve is doing on the monetary side, but I want to ask you what you think we should do—we meaning the federal government—[should do] on the fiscal side?” Kennedy asked the panelists.
“I think a little less fiscal spending would be good,” Dimon responded, noting that the U.S. had spent 30% of GDP over the last two years—a move he called “literally unprecedented.”
When asked by Kennedy if the government needed to get “off the backs of the American people in terms of regulation,” Dimon agreed.
“That would be helpful, I think, particularly for small businesses,” Dimon said. “I don’t want to sit here and complain about big companies, but I urge everyone to take 10 small businesses out to lunch and ask them what it was like to live through federal, state, and local regulations—even if they have one store. And that could help a lot.”
Dimon also noted that the federal government should also be considering actions around continuing to improve the supply side of the equation: taxation, immigration regulation, health care, and infrastructure is permitting bill
“If you did some of those things, you will help grow the economy through its inflation,” he said. Rather than pure tax cuts, Dimon noted that taxation should be calibrated to create more growth.
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