This doesn’t just matter for Americans guarding their pocketbooks. Price increases are also being closely scrutinized by investors and economists, who are desperate to know: Is this a passing phenomenon as the country emerges from a once-in-a-lifetime economic shock, or a more sustained trend that evokes the 1970s?
The answer to that question will have huge consequences for financial markets. If the Federal Reserve starts to think there is a real problem with inflation, it could boost interest rates or taper its bond purchases sooner than expected. That would spark a dramatic sell-off in high-growth assets, whose rise has set the tone for investing in the pandemic era.