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It’s Not Stagflation, but Inflationary Impoverishment

by Alasdair MacLeod
Gold Money

It is a matter of personal interest that it was my uncle, Iain Macleod, who invented the term stagflation shortly before he was appointed shadow chancellor in 1965i. It is no longer used in its original context. From Hansard (the official record of parliamentary debates) 17 November that year:

We now have the worst of both worlds —not just inflation on the one side or stagnation on the other, but both of them together. We have a sort of “stagflation” situation and history in modern terms is indeed being made.ii

The inflation that Iain was referring to was of wages, which were averaging an increase of 6.2%, and rising, and stagnation in production, which had declined from an index of 134 to 131. It was this divergence that gave him the opportunity to invent this portmanteau word. It has now passed into more common use to describe an economy that fails to respond to the stimulus of monetary inflation.

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