Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday broke with President Biden’s repeated attempts to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for the highest inflation in 40 years.
Powell, confirmed last month to a second term as chairman, explained to the Senate Banking Committee that “inflation was high before” the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine, which increased global food and energy prices.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) elicited the remark from Powell at a committee hearing after laying out the fact that inflation grew higher over the course of 2021.
“I realize there are a number of factors that play a role in those historic inflation that we’re experiencing — supply chain disruptions, regulations that constrain supply, we’ve got rising inflation expectations and excessive fiscal spending, but the problem hasn’t sprung out of nowhere,” Hagerty said.
“In January of 2021, inflation was at 1.4%. By December of 2021, it had risen to 7% — a fivefold increase. Now, since the war in Ukraine began in late February, the rate of inflation has risen incrementally another 1.6% to a current level of 8.6%. So again, from 7% to 8.6%.”