There is a group of folks who believe that inflation is much higher than the numbers in the official reports. Paul Krugman calls them “inflation truthers.”
In the 2000s, I might have been considered part of that crowd. I recognized that inflation data wasn’t being reported accurately, and said as much. I coined the phrase “inflation ex-inflation” to show the absurdity of reporting inflation data without food and energy prices, which were rising fast then. Owner’s equivalent rent, hedonic adjustments, substitution all were rightly criticized as flaws in the consumer price index model.
The key difference between the truthers of 2010s and those of the 2000s is what each group has criticized and toward what purpose.
The 2000s truthers were critics of the inflation mathematical model used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (more on this later); the 2010s truthers are critics of President Barack Obama, and any economic gains under his watch therefore must be the result of inflation.
Today’s truthers include the site shadowstats.com, whose methodology was thoroughly debunked by John Aziz. Yet even conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, my colleague at Bloomberg View, has called those who believe that hyperinflation is running amok, “inflation cranks.”
This piece is cross-posted from The Big Picture with permission.