Everyone thinks the Fed's job is to fight inflation, but right now the Fed is actually doing everything it can to cause inflation. Why? It part to help the economy get cranking again. Inflation provides an incentive for people to spend cash rather than saving it, because if they save it, the cash will lose value rapidly.
Inflation also helps solve another problem, though--our debt problem. The more inflation we have, the less our dollars will be worth. Because our debts are based on a specific number of dollars and not a specific value, the less our dollars are worth, the easier it will be for us to pay off our debts.
(Imagine owing someone 100 Zimbabwe dollars at a time when the currency is collapsing. If you wait a week, the value of the Zimbabwe dollar will have collapsed, and you'll be able to pay off your 100 Zimbabwe-dollar debt with currency that is only worth half as much as it was the week before).
The Fed can't admit that one reason it wants high inflation is to reduce the real burden of our debt, but you can bet that that's one of its objectives. What's more, says Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, inflation should be one of the Fed's objectives. Because that's how we've gotten out from under debt burdens in the past.
Here's Krugman:Then we get "banned for life" fraudster Henry Blodget calling for wiping out of the savings of savers and those on fixed incomes:
So how did the U.S. government manage to pay off its [World War 2] wartime debt? Actually, it didn’t. At the end of 1946, the federal government owed $271 billion; by the end of 1956 that figure had risen slightly, to $274 billion. The ratio of debt to G.D.P. fell not because debt went down, but because G.D.P. went up, roughly doubling in dollar terms over the course of a decade.In other words, after World War 2, we didn't "pay down" our debt. We grew into it.
And, importantly, this growth came from a combination of real growth AND inflation:
The rise in G.D.P. in dollar terms was almost equally the result of economic growth and inflation, with both real G.D.P. and the overall level of prices rising about 40 percent from 1946 to 1956.
So inflation is an important tool in getting us out of this mess. It's painful and unfair--those who have been responsible and saved money will pay the price for those who borrowed money, racked up huge debts, and spent more than they could afford. But it's what the Fed is (quietly) aiming for.