What Is Stagflation?
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What Is Stagflation?

Learn about the World Bank’s global economic outlook.

By HARRIET TORRY
Wed, Jun 15, 2022 10:27amGrey Clock 3 min

Stagflation—a toxic cocktail of stagnating growth and rising prices—is generally viewed as a relic of the 1970s. But economists are warning it could make a comeback.

What is stagflation?

The term is broadly defined as sluggish growth tied with rising inflation. Economists haven’t given it much thought since the 1970s, when U.S. consumers lined up to fill their cars with high-price gasoline and the jobless rate hit 9%.

Earlier this week, the World Bank sharply lowered its growth forecast for the global economy this year and warned of several years of high inflation and tepid growth reminiscent of the stagflation of the 1970s.

Stagflation spells trouble for the economy. Rising inflation erodes consumer purchasing power, and weaker demand hurts companies’ profits and causes layoffs.

Stagflation also puts the Federal Reserve in a bind because the central bank’s job is to keep both inflation and unemployment low. The Fed can raise interest rates to curb inflation—a path it has started on and intends to continue this year—but if it moves too aggressively it risks strangling spending and tipping the economy into a recession.

Why is stagflation a risk now?

Inflation is close to a 40-year high, and economists are worried about economic growth because of the war in Ukraine as well as lockdowns in China and supply-chain disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Are we in a period of stagflation now?

Not necessarily. Inflation is high, but unemployment remains near a half-century low. The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter as supply disruptions weighed on output, but most economists expect growth will resume in the second quarter because of strength in consumer and business spending. Stagflation would be a sustained period of both higher inflation and slower growth, not just one quarter.

Stagflation remains a risk to the U.S. economy, and there are similarities between the situation in the 1970s and today. Surging prices for oil and food are pushing up the cost of living, and business executives are voicing concerns about the outlook for the economy.

But the key difference between the situation in the 1970s and today is employment. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the unemployment rate at times was around 10%. It was just 3.6% in May 2022. U.S. layoff announcements, for now, are few and far between.

What is the difference between stagflation and inflation?

Inflation refers to an increase in prices for goods and services. The Fed likes to see a bit of inflation. It targets 2% inflation a year, because that signals healthy demand in the economy. But if inflation rises too quickly, the rapid price increases erode households’ purchasing power. Stagflation is a situation in which prices are rising, but demand is weakening and economic growth is slowing or contracting. As a result, businesses make less money and cut jobs, driving up unemployment. At worst, that pushes the economy into a recession.

Has stagflation happened before?

Yes, stagflation occurred from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, when surging commodity prices and double-digit inflation collided with high unemployment.

British Parliamentarian Iain Macleod is credited with first using the word stagflation in 1965. “We now have the worst of both worlds—not just inflation on the one side or stagnation on the other, but both of them together. We have a sort of ‘stagflation’ situation.”

Its seeds were planted in the late 1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson revved up growth with spending on the Vietnam War and his Great Society programs. Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin, meanwhile, failed to tighten monetary policy sufficiently to rein in that growth.

In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon, with the acquiescence of Fed Chairman Arthur Burns, tried to tame inflation by imposing controls on wage and price increases. The job became harder in 1973 after the Arab oil embargo drastically drove up energy prices, and overall inflation. Mr. Burns persistently underestimated inflation pressure: In part, he didn’t realize that the economy’s potential growth rate had fallen and that an influx of young, inexperienced baby boomers into the workforce had made it harder to get unemployment down to early-1960s levels.

As a result, even when the Fed raised rates, pushing the economy into a severe recession in 1974-75, inflation and unemployment didn’t fall back to the levels of the previous decade.

The stagflation of the 1970s ended painfully. Fed Chairman Paul Volcker drastically boosted interest rates to 20% in 1981, triggering a recession and double-digit unemployment.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 14, 2022.

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The 390-acre property has 2 miles of frontage on the Rogue River

By LIBERTINA BRANDT
Tue, Sep 27, 2022 8:47am 2 min

Former “Dallas” star Patrick Duffy is putting his roughly 390-acre Oregon ranch on the market for $14 million.

The property sits along the Rogue River outside the city of Medford in southern Oregon, according to Alan DeVries of Sotheby’s International Realty, who has the listing with colleague Matt Cook.

Mr. Duffy said he bought the first roughly 130 acres of the property in 1990 for roughly $1.5 million with his late wife, Carlyn Rosser. The couple spent roughly two decades and about $3 million buying surrounding properties when they went up for sale, said the actor, who has made the ranch his primary home since the early 2000s.

“My family always felt like we were stewards as opposed to owners,” said Mr. Duffy, 73. “We kept the boundaries sacred.”

Mr. Duffy said he first saw the property while fishing with a friend. The property contained a few structures, including what is now the main house, but was mostly wilderness, he said.

“It was pristine,” he said. “There was no paved road. There were some trails through the woods and about a mile—a little less than a mile—of river frontage.”

Mr. Duffy said he flew Ms. Rosser out to see the ranch, and they bought it. The main house has four bedrooms, and connects to a gallery where the couple displayed their art collection. They converted a caretaker’s cottage into a one-bedroom guesthouse with a loft. They also added a building that contains a hot tub overlooking the river, a structure for an indoor lap pool, and a wine cellar built into the side of a mountain, all within walking distance of each other.

As they purchased adjacent properties over the years, they acquired eight more houses and several pastures that are rented out to local ranchers. One of the homes was demolished, six are rented to tenants, and one is used as the ranch manager’s house, according to Mr. Duffy.

“We became a working ranch but not with our own animals,” he said. “It added the most beautiful, bucolic sense of the place.”

A homestead that dates back over 100 years still sits at the entrance to the property, he said. In it he found an old stove, which he restored and put in the main house. But the majority of the roughly 390 acres remains wilderness. The property now has approximately 2 miles of river frontage, according to Mr. DeVries.

For roughly a decade, Mr. Duffy and Ms. Rosser used the ranch as a family getaway from their primary home in Los Angeles. Then in the early 2000s, when their children went off to college, they decided to move there full time.

Ms. Rosser died in 2017, and Mr. Duffy said he plans to move full-time to either California or Colorado. He will keep a few parcels of land that aren’t attached to the main ranch, according to Mr. DeVries.

Mr. Duffy is well-known for his role as Bobby Ewing in the TV drama “Dallas,” which ran from 1978 to 1991. He also played Frank Lambert on the 1990s sitcom “Step By Step.” Today he runs an online sourdough business, called Duffy’s Dough, with his partner, Linda Purl.

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