No, no cool intro, no fancy music.
I just want to explain inflation in six minutes.
I have a degree in economics.
I spent years trying to understand this.
so let’s see if I can boil it down.
What is inflation?
Why is it rising?
Why are people worried?
And what do interest rates have to do with it?
The Federal Reserve is raising the interest rate.
Fed is set to raise interest rate.
Highest inflation in 40 years.
Listen, I know that I make long videos.
I’m into nuance, I’m into backstory.
Well, this isn’t that.
This is quick.
No, really, this is quick.
不 我说真的 这次绝对快
[rapid electronic music]
Wait, wait, wait, rewind.
Hold on one second.
Before we start the timer, I need to tell you
that I was going to do an ad read
in the middle of the explanation.
Like I was gonna stop the explanation and do an ad read,
but I realized I want this to be an uninterrupted six-minute explanation,
so I’ll even take out the YouTube ads that are on it
so that it can be uninterrupted.
Okay, the ad is over, let’s start the clock up again
好了 广告结束了 让我们再次启动时钟
and see if I can do this explanation in six minutes.
Here we go.
Okay, first up, the simplest definition.
Inflation is when there is more money in the economy
than stuff to spend it on.
But if you’re like me,
the simplest definition never does it for you.
So let’s try this.
Imagine a village that has one market where people buy
all of their stuff, their food, their clothes,
but one day the government shows up
because they’re worried about the economy of this village.
So they tell the people that if they want to take
out a loan, they’re gonna make sure
that the banks will not charge them a high interest rate.
They want to encourage the people to take out loans
and spend money.
Oh, and they also drop off a giant pile of cash
for everyone in the village.
And everyone in the village is like, “Sweet,
I’m feeling pretty rich.”
Villagers now are going to their market
and they’re buying way more stuff.
Many of them have been eyeing the fancy electric bike
in the market that before they couldn’t justify.
But now they totally can
because they have all this new money.
The store owner’s like,
“Sweet. this is great for business.”
“我的亲 这么多人要买自行车 生意来啦”
But he’s running out of bikes.
In fact, he’s running out of everything
because now all of these people have extra money
and they’re buying way more than they used to.
The store owner is like,
“I can’t keep up with all this demand,
I should raise prices.”
And that is inflation.
But the village is all of us
and the market is the entire economy.
When there’s extra money floating around
and people wanna spend it faster
than businesses can make stuff,
then all of the businesses in all of the industries raise their prices.
And that is inflation.
It’s a natural part of the economy.
It’s kind of a good thing in small doses
because it means that the economy is growing.
And it’s why movie tickets used to be 25 cents
and now they’re like $15.
And slowly over time, it’s fine.
Okay, let’s go back to the village and see what happens
if we keep going at this rate.
The store owner has now doubled his prices on bikes.
The interest rate is super low
so he takes out a loan to build a new factory to make bikes.
This is good, he’s growing a business.
But the government money eventually runs out
and his prices are still double.
But now the store owner has no one to come buy
all of his new bikes.
And now he has this factory and more employees,
but no customers.
He has to shut down the factory, lay off everyone,
and slowly start lowering his prices.
This is called recession.
When COVID shut down the world,
governments gave us money, free money.
They’re like, don’t panic and hoard all your money,
政府会说 不要惊慌 不要把你的钱存起来
instead spend and borrow and keep the economy going.
Here in the U.S., they literally sent us $3,200 checks.
They gave 600 bucks a week to people who were unemployed
for months and months and months.
They gave subsidies to people with kids.
They increased spending on food stamps.
I mean, trillions and trillions of dollars
of stimulus money.
This was vital aid to people in need,
but even people who didn’t lose a job got
a check in the mail.
It was free money for everyone and we spent it.
I just picked up myself a new bike.
Demand is up across the country.
It’s time to grind, Peloton.
We all just got these big checks from the government
during a pandemic.
We’re like YOLO, I’m buying a boat or a Peloton or whatever.
我们要及时享乐 我要买船 Peloton动感单车或别的什么
Fortnite. A new motor. Peloton.
堡垒之夜游戏 一辆新车 Peloton动感单车
Good soak in a hot tub. Animal crossing.
Push it out a little bit so. No, don’t you dare!
推出去一点它就 不 你敢！
But pair all this new spending with the fact
that the pandemic also made it harder for factories
and ships and retailers to get us all this stuff.
Supply chain issue.
Global supply chain.
So now you have an economy where people have
way more money than normal and they’re ready to spend it,
but the economy can’t get them stuff fast enough.
So what do businesses do with all this insane new demand?
They raise prices all at the same time
and that is inflation.
I feel like we’re getting this at this point.
But what do interest rates have to do with all this?
Raising the interest rate.
Or the Fed?
The federal reserve
Most countries have the central bank,
the puppet master of the economy,
the bank of all banks for that country.
But it’s not like a normal bank that stores our money
and then lends it out and collects interest to make profit.
That’s what a normal private bank does.
The central bank, which we call the Fed here
in the U.S. is run by the government.
So their job is to set the rules or policies
that all the other banks have to follow.
And the central bank isn’t motivated by profit,
but rather their job is to babysit the economy to keep
it growing, to make sure people have jobs,
to make sure that prices don’t fluctuate too much
so that we can keep growing nicely, no slow down,
no recession, that is what the Fed is there for.
But seriously, the Fed is like a puppet master
and we are the puppets and it’s kind of creepy.
They pull strings in the economy to get us to spend
our money in a certain way,
which in turn affects how much businesses raise or drop their prices.
And guess what?
It totally works.
One of the strings that they have to pull
in the economy is called the interest rate.
Wanna borrow money to buy a car or a house
or expand your business?
You’re gonna be way more likely to do that
if you only have to pay 2% interest on that loan
as opposed to like 6%.
Lower interest rates equal people
and businesses wanna borrow and spend money.
So during the pandemic, the central bank was like
we need everyone to spend money.
So they lowered the interest rate and people borrowed
and people spent, and it totally worked.
We’re like freaking puppets.
So a lower interest rate helped stimulate the economy.
But once again, we’re in this same place where there’s now
too much money to borrow and spend
and not enough goods and services to spend it on.
So what do businesses do all at the same time?
They raise prices to meet all this new demand
all at the same time and now your money is worth less.
And that is inflation.
[Reporter] Home prices rising at their highest rate.
Astronomical bidding war.
Price are going up.
By nearly 24%.
So that’s what’s happening right now.
All the prices are rising kind of at the same time.
What that means is that your hundred dollar bill is
now worth 8% less than it was last year.
Like the same money is worth less
because your purchasing power just got diluted.
And imagine if that keeps happening?
Like instead of 8% it’s 50%?
Now your hundred dollar bill is worth what $50 used to be.
And that’s when people start to freak out.
And our economy that’s built on human psychology starts to falter
and we fall into a recession or a depression, even,
because it’s real bad,
which is exactly what the Fed is built to avoid.
So they’re back to pulling their strings
and they’ve started raising rates.
The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates.
The Federal Reserve taking action to try and curb
They’re gently raising the interest rate to cool down
all of this hardcore spending and borrowing,
see if they can steer the ship back on course.
And let’s hope it works.
Okay, did we do it?
Did we do, did we do it in the time period
that I promised I would?
[Nick] I have no idea.
We’ll find out.
Okay, last thing I wanna say is a thing that didn’t make it
into my little inflation explainer,
but a few years ago when I worked at Vox,
I went to Venezuela and Columbia to do a borders series.
I saw inflation up close and personal because in Venezuela,
inflation got so out of control and they couldn’t,
the Fed, the puppet master couldn’t figure out
how to get it back in control
that their money became worth nothing.
The prices went up so high
that their money became basically worthless.
You needed like a pile of cash to buy bread.
So what they started doing is they started using
the currency itself to make things.
I visited this guy on the street who was making
purses and bags and sculptures out of cash
because it was worth more as a raw material than it was
as money, as a currency, which is insane.
That’s a very extreme version of inflation.
It’s happened in several countries that have done this.
We’re not in that situation, even close to that situation,
but it’s an example
of just how tenuous modern economies are.
They’re not pegged to gold or whatever.
They’re pegged to a bunch of humans believing
that this stuff is worth something
and it can quickly go off the rails.
So I thought I’d share that little, fun thing
that is more documented in the Vox borders episode
that you can go watch on the Vox YouTube channel.
So that’s all I’ve got.
Thank you all for being here
and I think you should check out, if you want to color
your videos or your photos, I have LUTs and presets
that you can use to color correct your stuff.
I also have a storytelling course
on Bright Trip where I talk about my methodology
for visual storytelling with Nathaniel Drew.
I think that’s sort of it, all the plugs I should do
at the end of these videos, but yeah, lots more to come.
We’re working on lots of amazing videos
and I’m really excited to share them.
So I’ll see you in the next one.