(WFXR) — WFXR News spoke to economics professors around southwest and central Virginia about ways to get through inflation and what to expect in the future.
Jennifer Elias, assistant professor of economics at Radford University, says if you have money, it’s easier to make safe investments that will increase in value.
However, for those who can’t invest in a new car or property, she says there are things everyone can try, like asking your boss for a cost-of-living adjustment. She also says not to buy things you don’t need — but don’t wait to buy the things you do need.
“Let’s say you’re gonna get a new phone or a computer, you should do that sooner rather than later because the longer you wait, the more that prices are going to go up,” said Elias.
When it comes to paying off loans, she mentions trying to talk to your lender because there’s no harm in asking for reduced interest rates or a “fixed” interest rate that won’t increase with inflation.
In addition, while it may sound strange, Elias advises against paying off loans right now if you don’t have to do so. She says inflation can be good for borrowers because the money you spend now is worth more than the money that you’ll have to pay back in the future.
While many are thinking about the future, some economists are looking to the past. Those who were around in the 1970s and 1980s might remember ‘stagflation.’
According to University of Lynchburg Associate Economics Professor Gerald Prante, while the causes are very different, we’re sitting at a similar inflation rate — around 8%. Back then, the Federal Reserve made a calculated decision to raise interest rates to control demand and purposely cause a recession.
“You can get lower inflation by causing a recession,” said Prante. “That’s not what we’d like to do, but that’s what they’re willing to do, probably, to try to get inflation under control.”
Prante says a recession is what the U.S. is trying to avoid this time around, but there’s no telling how long inflation issues will last or what lengths we’ll have to go to end it.
In the meantime, President Joe Biden calls inflation his top economic priority after the latest report shows prices are rising at levels not seen since the early 1980s.
Increasing energy, housing, and food prices are driving up the costs to the fastest pace in more than 40 years. Economists say inflation is costing Americans, on average, an extra $460 a month.
Dr. Karen Hult, professor of political science at Virginia Tech, says when it comes to midterm elections, the issues we’re looking at go beyond the United States.
“Some of the things that have gone on in the United States are raising questions, not only at home, but also elsewhere around the globe, about the sustainability of democracy in the United States,” said Hult. “And I think at some point, those are the kinds of issues we may want to take a little bit more seriously.”
She says going into the midterm elections, there are rising concerns about access to polling, the safety and security of the vote, and about elections themselves.