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Feb 08, 2023

Talk Around Town: Locals Discuss Inflation

“Corporations could find ways to absorb higher costs without passing them on to us, but that’s not standard protocol, and our government has done very little in the last 50 years to control them. The smaller and more local businesses are impacted by the rising costs of doing businesses, but this is hardly their fault. Instead, they have become victims just like us. It may be possible to limit the power of corporations by deciding among ourselves to buy products and services locally.” – John Schneider, local author and historian

“I had to buy a new car and paid a premium due to supply chain issues. Additionally, the financing was more because the Fed interest hikes significantly raised loan rates. I believe we have seen the worst of this inflation cycle. Once the Fed stops increasing rates (which should be within the next few months), interest rates will go down allowing pricing to stabilize and for the stock market to rally again.” – Brian K., Marlboro resident

“The COVID-19 shutdown absolutely contributed to current inflation, i.e. shortages in supply of semiconductors made it difficult for new car buyers – waiting six months for a new car and paying sticker or above sticker price. Inflation hurts lower- and middle-class families the most. Food banks are seeing patrons they have never seen before. It is a very unsettling time for our country. If history is any judge, we’ll be able to climb out of this inflationary spiral going forward.” – Sheila K., Monroe resident

“We have been fortunate that we can take advantage of some of the benefits of this high inflationary period to do things like buying bonds with rates tied to inflation or putting money into the market while it is depressed, but it’s still a shock going to the grocery store and seeing the high prices of things we buy every week, like eggs! Through our involvement with Nourish Asbury Food Pantry, we have seen how this disproportionately impacts neighbors in underserved communities that spend a larger percentage of their budget on necessities like food. Additionally, the high cost of groceries has a detrimental impact on the food banks, and they need support so they can continue to feed the same number of families each week.” – Melissa Murray Bailey, Fair Haven resident

“Although we have had several consecutive promising inflation reports, price increases remain well above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. As a result, I suspect that the Central Bank will continue to raise interest rates, albeit at a slower pace. I remain concerned about the stickiness of wage inflation – we need to see a significant slowing in wage growth to reach the Fed’s ultimate inflation target.” – Rick Roberts, former Federal Reserve executive and current Monmouth University professor of economics

“Inflation in general has had a huge impact on my business. From making it difficult to provide accurate quotes to continuing increasing prices for everything. And if that wasn’t bad enough, you had to wait for most raw materials due to out of stock or other reasons. Very difficult to pass all increased costs from material to labor onto customers. There is some good news: costs have begun to come down whether it’s gas and diesel for my machines to lumber and nails. A year ago, I paid close to $100 for a sheet of plywood. Last week, I paid under $35 and later in same week $31! Unfortunately, the mills and suppliers are not reducing costs as fast as they should unless you demand better pricing. Generally, material costs are back to pre-pandemic levels. I hope this catches up quickly so I can pass on to my customers.” – Mark K., builder in Monmouth County

“As consumers, we are all dealing with sticker shock at the price of food staples but as the vice president of the Calico Food Pantry in Middletown, I see the magnified impact of the rising costs. Food prices have increased while donations and supplies have decreased. We are very grateful to our community for their support, but everyone is struggling right now!” – Christine Stockhausen Butler, vice president of Community Outreach Group

“Inflation’s most significant impact is to purchasing power. With wages relatively stagnant and the increase in cost of goods, many of us find the need to make choices. In our household, we have made decisions to substitute certain goods. If you add in rising interest rates, those of us with students that require loans to offset higher education costs, there is a compounding effect. As long as there is inflationary pressure, we will need to examine our spending habits.”  – Bob B., Middletown resident