The Koh-i-Noor. Intrinsically it's just a hunk of carbon (
by Dan Burns
May 30, 2023, 7:30 AM

So economists are finally catching up to “greedflation?”

I’m not an economist. I didn’t even take Econ 001 as a freshman, for the social sciences requirement credits and the hopefully (relatively) easy “A.” But I have read Smith and Veblen, and Friedman and Hayek, and others. And my current take is that if you’re not talking behavioral economics, or economies as complex systems that produce emergent phenomena, you’re behind the times. Or at least you should be regarded as such.

But you will certainly not be generally regarded as such, which brings us to the likes of this:

Once dismissed as a fringe theory, the idea that corporate thirst for profits drives up inflation, aka “greedflation,” is now being taken more seriously by economists, policymakers and the business press…

The idea that profits drove our current bout of inflation surfaced in the last few years among progressive economists and lawmakers but was waved away by more mainstream types as a “conspiracy theory.”

“In the last few years?” These justly famed remarks by J. K. Galbraith are from 1963:

The modern conservative is not even especially modern. He is engaged, on the contrary, in one of man’s oldest, best financed, most applauded, and, on the whole, least successful exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
(Being Liberal)

Then there’s Veblen on “conspicuous consumption,” going back a lot further than that. And, heck, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to recall that the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, the Vedas, or any other major religious texts cast greed in a particularly positive way. That is, going back in some cases to some of the first books ever written, thoughtful people well understood the baleful realities of greed.

To insist that plain old unrelenting, exploitative greed played no role in post-COVID price inflation, or that it doesn’t do so in general, is indicative of cognitive rigidity to an extreme. Cognitive “petrification” is more apt. Here’s the reality.

But the bottom line is that many professional economists, including in academia, are just another subset of the rich man’s vast kennel of whimpering, simpering, groveling propagandist curs. Which wouldn’t much matter, except that they continue to dominate “discussion” in corporate media and, worse, business schools.

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