Americans are more worried about inflation hurting their wallets than they should be — and they should “calm down” and “stop complaining” about it, according to a Washington Post columnist.
“Overall, many Americans aren’t suffering as much as they think they are and we can think things into existence because we are unrealistically fearful of something that hasn’t happened yet,” the paper’s personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary said during a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC. “We don’t know if we’re in a recession yet.”
Singletary downplayed concerns about the impact of rising prices after MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing pointed out a poll by Politico and Morning Consult which showed that 38% of Americans “say they would rather see a recession than the inflation we’re dealing with.”
“I read that to mean more than a third of Americans are so pressed by what they’re having to pay for gas, for food, everyday items, rent, that they’d rather see a recession. Is there where we are right now?” Jansing asked.
“You know, I’m just gonna say this, and if I get banged for it, I don’t care,” Singletary said. “There is a great deal of Americans where it is uncomfortable that they are spending more, but they’re not gonna go under. You know, you’ve got to stop complaining when there’s so many people who literally the inflation rate means they may only have two meals instead of three.”
Singletary framed the debate in the context of wealth inequality within the United States – with half the country legitimately facing a financial crunch due to the higher cost of necessities and the other half irrationally concerned about inflation.
Fox News was first to report on Singletary’s remarks.
“There are Americans who did extremely well in the last two years in the market,” Singletary said. “You still have your job. And yeah, it’s costing you more for gas, but guess what, you’re still going to take that holiday, that Fourth of July vacation. You can still eat out.”
“So I’m going to need you to calm down and back off,” she continued. “Because it feeds into this fear and then this fear feeds into people making decisions that creates the very thing they’re fearful of. If you’re in that category, calm down. Stop looking at your portfolio and you know what you can do with all that energy? Help other people.”
Record gas prices and the surging cost of food and rent contributed to a decades-high reading in last month’s Consumer Price Index. Inflation hit 8.6%, the fastest pace since 1981.
The Federal Reserve responded to the alarming data by hiking its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point for the first time since 1994 – a move that exacerbated fears about a looming recession.
Citi now sees the risk of a recession as nearly 50%, joining other banks that have recently expressed a pessimistic view about the state of the US economy in the months ahead.
Singletary asserted that concerns about the possibility of a recession are unnecessarily bleak.