The Corner

Re: a Reader Who Loves Jimmy Carter

In asserting that Jimmy Carter had “NOTHING to with the high rate of inflation,” Derb, your reader is badly mistaken. From How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, p. 52:

“After pursuing a restrictive monetary policy early in 1980, Volcker [Carter’s Fed chairman]…reversed himself in the spring, engaging in one of th emost rapid expansions of the money supply since World War II–an expansion that would timulate the economy in time for the presidential election that autumn. ‘Volcker was playing games,’ says Milton Friedman, whose classic Monetary History of the United States remains the authoritative text in the field. ‘He was trying to re-elect Carter.”

The inflation that came to characterize the Seventies did indeed begin under Nixon–Milton Friedman had a falling out with his old friend and mentor, Arthur Burns, when Burns, as Nixon’s Fed chairman, inflated the money supply to help Nixon’s re-election bid in 1972. But what Carter and Volcker did as the decade drew to a close was take a bad inflationary situation and make it, on balance, even worse.

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