Along with Vivek Ramaswamy’s rise in the polls should come greater scrutiny of his views on economics. In that spirit, I am here to report that — on monetary policy at least — the Republican presidential candidate does not yet have useful recommendations.
Ramaswamy has called for the US Federal Reserve to stabilise the dollar in relation to the price of commodities, rather than to the consumer price index. That formula is unlikely to bring monetary stability (or tame business cycles) in part because commodity prices themselves are notoriously unstable.
Consider the five years leading up to 1994, when consumer prices increased more than 19 percent but most commodity prices fell. Or the years from 2004 to 2008, when commodity prices rose by about three times but US price inflation rates were roughly constant, in the range of 2 percent. In other time periods, the relationship between commodity prices and consumer inflation is murky.
Many commodities are inelastic in supply in the short run. That means when demand rises, or supplies are restricted, prices for those commodities can go up a lot. This happened with the war in Ukraine, which has intermittently caused prices for wheat, oil and gas to skyrocket.