We need to do better when it comes to 'inflation'

Well duh. But in this case I don’t just mean in how we manage it, I mean in how we talk about it.

This is a PSA – based on a bit of a personal gripe of mine – for all political, economics and business journalists: Inflation isn’t causing the cost of goods to rise. Inflation is the cost of goods rising.

You (hopefully) wouldn’t say “a lack of money is causing people to be poor” because it would sound stupid. Please don’t make the same mistake when it comes to inflation.

Pedantic you might say, but I don’t see this as grammatical issue. Journalists have a duty of keeping the public informed on important matters. And inflation is an important public matter. How can the public be correctly informed when journalists themselves paint a confusing and inaccurate picture?

I’ve also noticed an awful lot of bullshit as well as outright disinformation around inflation. There appear to be a lot of vested interests – cryptopushers, fiscal hawks, libertarians and those who want to undermine democracy and the State using and abusing inflation to create fear, uncertainty and anger.

Inflation as a concept can seem scary, and at times – albeit very rarely – it can become genuinely scary. And unlike most risks that we come to accept in our day-to-day lives – like driving a car, walking down the stairs, regularly eating fast food etc – inflation is a risk that is more-or-less completely out of our control. Its causes are distant and complex and multivariate. It is ripe for disinformation. And you better believe that there are an awful lot of people who have vested interests in abusing inflation – as a proxy for attacking governments and government spending – as a means to their various ends.

All of this means that it’s critical that journalists and other public figures talking about inflation are accurate, informed, honest and reasonable when it comes to discussing it. As a society it’s critical that we do all we can to stop bad actors from weaponising economic and political issues. Let’s do better.