In “The Everything is Weird Economy,” Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, tries to shed some light on the economic moment we’re in. Basically, current conditions make no sense.


A sign advertises for help at The Goldenrod, a popular restaurant and candy shop, on June 1 in York Beach. America’s hiring boom continued in July as employers added a surprising 528,000 jobs despite rising inflation. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

The relationships between different economic indicators don’t align in usual ways. Gas prices are falling, yet inflation is still rising. Prices are rising, yet wages are falling. GDP and growth measures usually move up or down in lockstep. Right now, the gap between the two numbers is the highest on record.

No economic history correlates to what’s happening now. The last two recessions were brought about by actual crises we faced – the 2007-2008 mortgage-backed securities debacle and then the recession created by COVID-induced shutdowns of the world economy.

In short, even the experts don’t understand what’s happening right now. The media don’t help, with their breathless talk about inflation at every opportunity. And this past week’s jobs report muddled the picture even more.

“Maybe we are in a moment of transition, where the data are simply not going to make sense for a bit,” The Atlantic’s Thompson concludes.

It seems the best guess is that it’s still about the pandemic. The demand for goods increased dramatically, while the demand for services fell. Gas prices fell, supply chains failed and freight began piling up in ports around the world. All of that can’t be unwound quickly. Since most economists are struggling to understand the current economy, we should probably do ourselves a favor and stop trying to make sense of it as well. This too shall pass.

Mary Ann Larson

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