Notes: Week of April 4

some thoughts on inflation, a new side project, and municipal finance

Notes: Week of April 4

A shortlist of things that caught my attention this week:

We CAN have nice things (Pluralistic)

Politics aside—this is a compelling piece on inflation. We all remember that inflation is "a general rise in the price level in an economy over a period of time."[1]

It seems logical that increasing the money supply must result in inflation. Right?

WRONG! Increasing the money supply only results in inflation if there is not a commensurate increase in productivity (GDP). Cory Doctorow writes:

Inflation isn't the result of too many dollars, it's the result of too few things you can buy with those dollars.

Americans have seen an influx of cash (i.e. stimulus payments) and decreasing productivity/consumption due to COVID-19. Naturally, they invest their money, which raises the prices of assets like stocks and real estate.

If future stimulus is going to help, it cannot be inflationary. It will only work if it causes an equal increase in productivity.

Building a Personalized Newsletter with Bash and a Raspberry Pi (BiteofanApple)

I use Pocket to bookmark web pages and blog posts that I find interesting or helpful. I have thousands of bookmarks, some going back as far as 2012.

I rarely look back at the old ones, though most are just as relevant today as they were when I saved them.

This project from Brian Schrader inspires me to create a tool for resurfacing random bookmarks from my collection. Stay posted for future content about this.

How Suburban Development Makes American Cities Poorer [ST02] (Not Just Bikes)

This is the second part of an ongoing series on Strong Towns, an organization that seeks to address "the insolvency crisis facing America's cities and towns." All of the videos on Not Just Bikes are good, but the Strong Town series tickles my interest as a newly minted suburban homeowner.

The premise is simple: North America's suburban expansion is fiscally unsustainable because it requires much more infrastructure to service a much smaller population. Over time, the maintenance of sprawling infrastructure outstrips the productive capacity of the areas the infrastructure services. This to bankruptcy.

It's a real problem, and it's all around us.

  1. Definition courtesy of my favorite economics textbook, Wikipedia ↩︎