The Dog That’s Still Not Barking

Here’s an important reminder at WaPo’s Wonklog from Jim Tankersley:

There’s still a lot wrong with the U.S. economy. Unemployment remains stubbornly high, just under 8 percent. Growth remains too weak to bring that rate down very quickly, which adds up to fairly dim hopes for the 12 million-plus Americans who are currently looking for work but can’t find a job.

Working-class wages are stuck in neutral. A yawning gap between the richest of the rich and everyone else – one that threatens the strength and stability of the economy – isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The ratio of federal debt to the size of the economy is trudging upward toward levels where many economists warn it will begin to drag on growth. America’s trade deficit widened in December, continuing a general trend since the end of the Great Recession.

Know what’s not a problem? Inflation.

Nope: hasn’t been a problem for a very good long while now. But as Tankersly notes, it is the implicit motive for an awful lot of respectable economic policy proposals, particularly from conservatives who claimed throughout the Great Depression that we were on the edge of Weimar-style hyper-inflation due to federal borrowing.

At some point is the continued non-appearance of inflation maybe grounds for questioning the credibility of those who favor austerity policies in good times and bad? One would think so.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.