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You make one great point that almost no one in the public discourse will: without the massive and perhaps overdone USG cash helicopter drop, there would have been widespread misery & the recovery from that would take years.

It is very difficult to prove a negative, and subsequently, it is very difficult to prove what might have happened. All I would say is that three rounds of public stimulus, as well as the programs to prop up businesses, supplement unemployment and ease rental payments all received bipartisan support at the time, and most were enacted during the previous administration. You can argue whether they did too much or too little at the time, but what they did, they did together.

I do think the Fed, the only organization actually responsible for identifying and mediating inflationary trends, dropped the ball. But I was right with them a year ago thinking that supply chain issues would be resolved as the world got vaccinated and logistic logjams were exhausted. But the initial hopes for the vaccine did not pan out, a combination of a refusal by half the country to get vaccinated, and the reality that while helping prevent death and serious illness, they did not substantially stop the spread.

And while some may dismiss getting sick as no big deal anymore, certainly not worth masking, physically distancing, or gathering in mass indoors, I can personally attest that C19 cost me over $2k and 14 days I'll never get back. And that was after being twice boosted. I can only imagine the personal and financial cost had I not been as prepared and taken as many precautions as I did and continue to do.

But back to the Fed, I think it was a combination of expectations that more would embrace vaccination and common sense health safety protocols, that businesses would figure out their new normal and return to reliable (and more predictable) business operations, compounded by the impact of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, that formed a perfect storm to drive inflation through the roof.

Still, however, we have short memories. During the energy crisis in 1976, gas experienced a 6.86% inflation rate. My 30-year fixed 1995 mortgage rate was 5.25%. And I had an auto loan at 4%. I keep reading how this inflation is the worst ever and I just have to wonder how young those who are saying that really are. Or is it just selective memory or the need for click-bait headlines that dooms us to forget the past and repeat past mistakes.

We are also a self-centered nation. I guess all nations are, but as bad as gas and food prices are here in the US, as you noted, they are far worse over in Europe and anywhere else that was dependent on Ukrainian grain or Russian oil. These are global markets and when you suppress one contributor to the market, there is tremendous for the others to fill the gap and that means inflation until supply can rise to meet demand. Because don't dare suggest anyone reduce their demand.

Who continues to believe optimistically that the night always seems darker before the dawn and his Urologist father would tell his kidney stone patients, this too shall pass...

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