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Beware the politics of inflation

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Eggs. Illustrated | iStock

Inflation is here, and it’s sticking around.

That appears to be the message from Wednesday’s news that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 5.4 percent in September on a year-on-year basis. That’s significantly higher than the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent and somewhat higher than what analysts were expecting. Then there was the nearly simultaneous announcement that Social Security benefits in 2022 will be increased by 5.9 percent, the biggest cost-of-living adjustment in four decades.

It’s not a coincidence that four decades ago was the last time the United States suffered from persistent high inflation. Not that prices are rising as quickly now as they were then, at least at an aggregate level. But on a range of household items — gasoline, used and rental cars, hotels, bacon, beef, pork, eggs, TVs, kids’ shoes, furniture — prices are going up at double-digit levels. For the past several months, the conventional…

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