A blame game over high inflation has dominated U.S. politics this fall. But the global forces behind soaring prices are bigger than anything Joe Biden or Jerome Powell can control. Worldwide fuel costs began sharply climbing as the world awoke from COVID, triggering devastating inflation in oil-import-dependent countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions aggravated that crisis. Those two countries are also huge producers of grain and fertilizer, and their absence from world markets has sent food costs surging, especially in the Middle East and Africa. In China, severe anti-COVID lockdowns have kept inflation in check, but they’ve also created supply-chain chaos that drives up prices elsewhere for cars, smartphones, and countless other consumer goods. That’s a whole pack of inflationary werewolves, and central banks don’t have many silver bullets.
This article appears in the October/November 2022 issue of Fortune with the headline, “The global pain of inflation.”
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