The Fed Cares About Inflation 10 Times More Than It Cares About Unemployment


Ryan Avent, having exhausted his conventional analysis of the Fed’s 2008 transcripts, turns today to a more analytical approach: counting words. I think others have already made this point without numbers, but Avent’s most powerful finding is that the Fed cares way more about inflation than it does about unemployment:

There is only one winner in the dual mandate. The word “inflation” (or variants thereof, such as “inflationary”) was mentioned a cool 2,664 times in 2008; “unemployment” pops up just 275 times.

I’m assuming he played fair and also looked for variants of “unemployment,” like “employment” or “jobs.” In any case, I don’t think this comes as much of a surprise to anyone, since it’s been obvious for decades that the Fed not only doesn’t care about unemployment, but gets positively worried when too many people have jobs. That would mean the labor market is tight and workers might get paid more, you see, and that could be inflationary. Still, it’s nice to see this verified quantitatively.

Avent also found that there were fewer mentions of “recession” as the year went on, which seems odd but might not be. Early on, when it was still unclear if the economy was in recession, I suppose they argued about this a lot. By June, when there was no longer any question about it, they all took it for granted and no longer even needed to mention it.

As for the finding that laughter increased later in the year, I guess I can’t blame them. There’s only so much globe-destroying financial panic you can take without cracking a few jokes.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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