Has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine worsened inflation?

Friday, May 20, 2022
By Austin Tannenbaum

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has worsened existing inflation internationally, exacerbating pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions and fueling financial speculation.

Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of energy and agricultural products. According to the International Monetary Fund, the conflict has reduced supplies of oil, gas, metals, wheat, corn and fertilizer, driving up their prices sharply. News of these supply-chain disruptions has spurred speculative commodities future trading, leading to what one author terms "Bitcoin-esque volatility."

In addition to these factors, pandemic-relief spending, begun under Trump and continued under Biden, is thought to have contributed to U.S. inflation. Economists disagree over how much: as reported by the New Yorker, Larry Summers believes it's a primary factor, generating excess demand, while Austan Goolsbee downplays its impact, pointing instead to ongoing supply-chain issues that have made inflation a "global phenomenon," including in countries that did not pass large stimulus packages. In April, the European Union's inflation rate was 8.1% — comparable to the U.S.'s rate of 8.3%.

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