National Edition

Why you should stop worrying and learn to love inflation

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18 2013 9:35 a.m. MDT

But in normal times, interest rates are positive.

"Cash is like a hot potato," Sumner says. "Cash doesn't earn any interest. So when you get cash, you want to get rid of it because you can earn better rates of return on other assets during normal times. You don't want to hold all your wealth in cash."

Investments have a better return than currency.

Normally if the Federal Reserve injects currency into the economy, people will try to get rid of it, which will drive up prices which will make it worth less.

But when the interest rates that the Federal Reserve charges banks is zero, (and this has only been in the last 5 years and also during the Great Depression) money will often just sit in the banks' reserves and doesn't have its normal inflationary affect.

What could be done if prices started rising fast? The Fed could very easily take the money right back out of circulation, Sumner says.

If the money is moving out into the economy too fast, they could raise the interest rate they pay banks for holding these reserves of cash.

"I'm not actually worried about inflation," Sumner says. "I know it seems kind of scary when you look at it from a simple money inflation point of view,

"I'm a strong believer in the view that printing a lot of money normally causes a lot of inflation," Sumner says, "but the Fed has a lot of tools to prevent that from happening."

Noticed inflation

Matt Towery in Atlanta, however, still sees a disconnect between official inflation rates and the challenges the average American faces.

"The problem is we don't have a system that looks at the true cost impact that families and consumers must deal with," Towery says.

Sumner admits that there are ups and downs in prices.

"Consumers notice the ones that go up," he says, "but not the ones that go down."

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