Is inflation always a bad thing that hurts consumers? Or can there be some potential benefits when it’s being controlled at a moderate level? Is the alternative to “inflation/high inflation” totally static prices, or is it predictable 2% inflation?

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Inflation occurs when prices increase over time throughout an economy. This acts like a tax on everything, meaning each dollar buys less than it did earlier. When prices decrease, as they did during the 2008 recession, it is called deflation. This encourages people and businesses to not spend anything since money will be worth more later. 

Over the last several years, there have been very low inflation and low-interest rates which both encourage businesses to invest. 

Inflation is most commonly measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, which measures a wide range of consumer goods and services across the country.

By a large margin, Americans see growing inflation as the biggest issue in 2022. According to data from Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans view inflation as a very big problem for the country. 

When it comes to assessing the effects of inflation, however, concerns differ across party lines. According to a Mar. 2022 poll from Gallup, 79% of Republicans said they worry “a great deal” about inflation, compared to 35% of Democrats.

While some progressives stand by the Federal Reserve’s target of 2% inflation, some conservatives believe that the Fed should lower inflation to avoid rising unemployment and interest rates. 

Explore the most popular stances and perspectives on inflation along with their supporting arguments. Note that none of these stances support high inflation – there is widespread agreement that high inflation is a problem, though disagreement on how best to address that problem. (Keep in mind that stances aren’t mutually exclusive — some viewpoints might align with multiple stances.)

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Stance 1: Moderate Inflation Can Have Positive Effects on the Economy

CORE ARGUMENT: Meddling with the natural course of inflation on an aggressive level can be harmful.

More arguments for this stance:

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Stance 2: Inflation is a Big Consumer Issue, But Shouldn’t Always be a Priority Over Other Economic Matters

CORE ARGUMENT: Inflation sometimes overshadows more pertinent issues.

More arguments for this stance:

  • Inflation is not strictly a domestic issue; the U.S. will typically experience high levels of inflation along with the rest of the world.
  • Reducing tariffs and increased production may help lower some consumer costs. 
  • The amount of money that the government has spent on initiatives related to diminishing the threat of COVID-19 as well as protecting Ukrainian citizens from Russian forces is more important than keeping inflation levels low.
  • A lot of the symptoms that are typically associated with high inflation are confused with corporate greed and companies that choose to take advantage of consumers during a perceived recession. Inflation often stems from large corporations that gouge prices in order to retain control over the market, which ultimately hurts consumers and small businesses.
  • The burden of inflation shouldn’t just be placed on Americans as it’s a worldwide issue; international trust and cooperation are the best way to address rising inflation rates.
  • Instead of pointing fingers at the Federal Reserve, elected officials should intervene in certain industries to keep specific types of prices that are rising rapidly from further accelerating.

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Stance 3: Inflation is a Bad Thing and Should Be Aggressively Combatted

CORE ARGUMENT: Allowing inflation to persist prevents the economy from flourishing and can be a serious burden on all Americans.

More arguments for this stance:

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Authors and contributors:

Antonio Ferme, AllSides Weekend Editor, Center bias

Henry Brechter, AllSides Managing Editor, Center bias

Joseph Ratliff, AllSides Daily News Editor, Lean Left bias

Julie Mastrine, AllSides Director of Marketing, Lean Right bias

John Gable, AllSides CEO, Lean Right bias

Ethan Horowitz, News Research Assistant, Lean Right bias

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