Everyone who owns a gasoline-burning car has noticed that fuel prices have shot up in recent weeks. And most of us have read headlines about high energy prices driving inflation. But very few Americans have any inkling just how profound the current energy crisis already is, and is about to become.
This lack of awareness is partly due to economists, and those who depend on economists' readings of the tea leaves of daily data (a group that, sadly, includes nearly all politicians and news purveyors). Recently I heard an NPR staff commentator confidently state: "The only way to get gasoline prices under control is to get inflation under control." Anyone who understands recent events and how economies work will immediately realize that the statement is ass backwards. Energy prices are rising for specific physical reasons, most of which are widely reported. Those higher prices show up in economic statistics as inflation, a phenomenon that economists equate to a malevolent miasma that occasionally drifts into the economy from a mysterious alternate dimension.