DAVE ROSS

Ross: A brief history of presidential efforts to fight inflation

May 6, 2022, 6:31 AM
Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on May 05, 2022 in New...
Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on May 05, 2022 in New York City. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Throughout history, presidents have tried various things to fix inflation.

In 1942, with a World War pushing prices higher, Roosevelt used radio personalities to preach self-restraint.

“If we all rush down to the store with our money in our hands and start bidding against each other for the few things left on that counter, prices will go zooming up. That’s why they’re urging us now not to buy anything we don’t absolutely need, but to make our own things do it. If there’s money burning a hole in your pocket, sock it away in war bonds and stamps,” as said on The Great Gildersleeve radio program.

The Great Gildersleeve. Believe it or not, that was before my time. But I do remember 1974 – when inflation hit 11%, and it was Gerald Ford’s turn:

“There is only one point on which all advisors have agreed: we must whip inflation right now,” Gerald Ford said.

It was all voluntary – people pledged to be thrifty, and wore buttons with the letters W-I-N. Even his own treasury secretary was embarrassed. It didn’t work.

He was followed by Jimmy Carter – who attacked inflation by cutting federal salaries and cutting federal regulations.

“Regulations are essential. They must be efficient. Where they fight inflation, they should be encouraged. For the unnecessary, they should be removed,” Jimmy Carter said.

That didn’t work either. By the time his one term ended in 1980, inflation hit 14.6%. That’s the year I bought our first house in Bellevue — with an interest rate of 15%.

Then came Ronald Reagan. He cut taxes, cut federal pay, and busted the Air Traffic controllers union. The prime interest rate went past 20%. There was a recession which pushed unemployment close to 10%, and since a lot of people lost their jobs, and couldn’t afford loans, prices had to drop.

And by the end of his second term, inflation was under 5%.

I lived through it.

But I wouldn’t want to see that again.

What I’d like to see is for this stock collapse to do the trick. The difference between the 80s and today is that basically everyone with money is in the stock market and is feeling significantly poorer right now. Maybe feeling poor enough to walk away from the overpriced house, to forego the muscle car for the hybrid car, to take the advice of the Great Gildersleeve.

Because I wouldn’t wish the return of the 80’s on anybody. Unless it means ABBA goes on tour again…that would be OK.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

(Unsplash)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Have Seattleites gone soft on crime?

The Seattle Police Department recently came out with some advice on what to do if a burglar breaks in while you’re at home. The advice… is to get out, ASAP.
1 day ago
Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the White House (Getty Images)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Why Oklahoma’s stance on abortion will echo throughout the country

12 states have trigger laws that take effect if Roe v Wade is overturned – and Oklahoma is one of them.
2 days ago
Katie Wussler, a program coordinator at Mother & Child Education Center, checks the lot number on a...
Dave Ross

Ross: Baby formula shortage puts new mothers in difficult spot

I’m having trouble accepting that the US is dealing with a baby formula shortage – especially when the main advice is do NOT try to make your own.
5 days ago
(Unsplash)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Are vasectomies the best form of birth control?

A Tweet caught my attention because it was a sketch for a short story about a world where abortions aren’t necessary.
6 days ago
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) (Getty Images)...
Dave Ross

Ross: A dip in the stock market asks us to look at our savvy non-investments

The way stocks have been melting over the past 16 months, those of us with the courage to open the monthly statement are wondering how low can they go…
7 days ago
(Getty Images)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Are Americans ready for Big Tech to eliminate passwords?

Apple, Google, and Microsoft announce that they have joined the FIDO alliance: FIDO stands for Fast Identity Online, and its mission is to end password hacking.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Ross: A brief history of presidential efforts to fight inflation