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People are concerned about high prices. This is true for U.S. Americans, Europeans and people across the world.

Some of the causes of inflation are global and out of the control of any one country or president. A case in point: Jimmy Carter was well-liked and respected but faced the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which resulted in restricted oil supplies and extremely high global oil prices, along with high prices of everything produced and/or transported with energy products. This is sort of a no-brainer, but it nevertheless ended his presidency.

Ronald Reagan ran on an anti-inflation platform, and he did indeed reduce inflation with the help of the Federal Reserve. This, however, created the largest recession and highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression. (The current unemployment rate is 4%. Except for a few scattered years, unemployment rates under President Joe Biden are the lowest they have been since the 1960s.)

As of May 2024, the inflation rate (based on the Consumer Price Index, or CPI) is a startlingly low 3.3%. I say "startlingly" because while still feeling the impact of the pandemic, we are well below the inflation rates of 7.7% in 2021 and 6.5% in 2022. Keep in mind this is amid a rise in global oil prices due to the war in Ukraine and Russian sanctions. This gets us to the main point.

Even though the inflation rate (which measures the rate of price increases) is remarkably low, people still face high prices at the gas stations and grocery stores. And they are high, because despite currently low rates of price increases, prices were extremely high just a few years ago. They haven't come down because despite the low inflation rate, they continue to rise but very slowly. We are simply not going to see lower prices any time soon, regardless of who becomes our next president.

There are other factors to consider, including:

• The Federal Reserve could fight inflation by raising interest rates, which discourages businesses from buying factories and consumers from buying homes and appliances. I must wonder, though, whether the typical consumer wants to see interest rates go up. It ultimately depends on whether you're a spender or a saver. On the other hand, if the Fed lowers interest rates, people and businesses will increase their spending, which is inflationary. At this point, we should trust the Fed.

• Federal government spending and tax policies also affect inflation, but let's be real. President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cut, which largely benefited the rich and corporations, resulted in increased spending by the public. Increased spending triggers inflation. Trump promises to extend these tax cuts if re-elected. Biden promises tax cuts for the middle class. These will both be inflationary. Government spending is also inflationary. Biden wants expanded social programs, while Trump hasn't been specific. He relies on campaign slogans like returning to "the American way of life." To be truthful, both want to spend, but on different things. Both want to lower taxes, but for different people.

• Wages generally rise with inflation. The rate of wage increase for May 2024 was an annualized 4.1%, well above the inflation rate previously cited of 3.3%. As a nation, our wages are rising faster than prices, making us better off. That, of course, depends on who you are. Your own wages may be increasing faster or slower than the national average or not at all. But overall, the rising wages we receive outweigh any price increases we pay.

• Market power is a little-challenged major source of high prices. Market power is the ability of a few firms in highly concentrated industries to raise prices by restricting output, thereby causing both inflation and unemployment. Think of airlines, breakfast cereals, tires and wireless-telecommunications carriers. Your pain is their profits.

There is a general perception among the U.S. public that Trump is better on economics than Biden, despite these statistics. This economist is placing her money on Biden. Biden understands economics, surrounds himself with experts and is stepping up his antitrust activity. Trump has no understanding of economics (e.g., his ill-informed policies on trade, immigration, climate and more, not to mention the lunatic fringe concepts of eliminating the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard), he surrounds himself with loyalists, and he makes antitrust decisions based on whichever corporation he likes or dislikes at the moment.

Jacqueline Murray Brux is an emeritus economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and author of a college economics textbook. Other recent Star Tribune Opinion coverage of the subject of inflation includes "Why consumers think inflation is still really high when it's not" (June 7).