It has been a long time since inflation was a thing anyone had to worry about. President Jimmy Carter was brought low in his run for re-election, in part, because of nagging, intractable inflation, and every subsequent president has made it a priority to avoid getting stuck in a similar situation.

Presidents, though, do not have nearly as much control over the economy as voters seem to believe, and President Joe Biden is now facing the negative political effects of a sudden inflationary jump for which he bears little responsibility. The big culprit is the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that has severely disrupted the global supply chain and exacerbated the worker shortage. Add to that the big spike in prices at the gas pump driven by an international energy crisis, food shortages caused by persistent drought and unleashed consumer demand exceeding the supply of many goods, and it is no wonder prices are quickly ticking up.

Economists are saying the macroeconomics of the pandemic are a new phenomenon that no one fully understands. Inflationary pressures may simply fade as the pandemic eases and products stuck in coastal ports finally get delivered. That would be fortuitous for Biden. Luck is what the president may need to count on, since the causes of the new inflationary spiral are not easily tamed by any quick fixes his administration may cook up.

While Biden aspires to be FDR, persistent inflation could turn him into Jimmy Carter.

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