Corporate profits have contributed disproportionately to inflation. How should policymakers respond? | Economic Policy Institute

What does the abnormally high contribution of profits to price growth mean for how policymakers should respond to the recent outbreak of inflation?

It is unlikely that either the extent of corporate greed or even the power of corporations generally has increased during the past two years. Instead, the already-excessive power of corporations has been channeled into raising prices rather than the more traditional form it has taken in recent decades: suppressing wages. That said, one effective way to prevent corporate power from being channeled into higher prices in the coming year would be a temporary excess profits tax.

The historically high profit margins in the economic recovery from the pandemic sit very uneasily with explanations of recent inflation based purely on macroeconomic overheating.

Evidence from the past 40 years suggests strongly that profit margins should shrink and the share of corporate sector income going to labor compensation (or the labor share of income) should rise as unemployment falls and the economy heats up. The fact that the exact opposite pattern has happened so far in the recovery should cast much doubt on inflation expectations rooted simply in claims of macroeconomic overheating.

Corporate profits have contributed disproportionately to inflation. How should policymakers respond? | Economic Policy Institute

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