Inflation, The Runaway Train

August 7, 2023

By Matthew Harris

Northern Nevada businesses and residents will be experiencing the negative effects of inflation for potentially longer than similar markets, and here’s why.

“Entrenched inflation” is a persistent and sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over an extended period of time. This type of inflation is characterized by its deep-rooted nature, making it challenging for policymakers to control or reverse the rising prices for property management in Reno.

Policymakers (the Fed) really only have one tool to fight it- that's interest rate hikes, which they just bumped again by 0.25%. Think of Fed rate hikes like brakes on a train, once applied it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to stop the forward momentum of the train. The economy was pumped so (mistakenly) full of liquidity during covid that we're all aboard a runaway train.

Northern Nevada has a decade long real estate shortage. It's most evident in residential and industrial real estate. Residential, industrial, & property management pricing in Reno, has been pushed to heights never thought possible due to lack of supply. Our only way to fix the critical lack of supply is to build more, and guess what- the cost of capital due to historic Fed rate hikes makes building anything way more expensive. Real estate shortages can exacerbate entrenched inflation, especially if the shortage of housing supply is persistent and severe like that which we’ve experienced here in Reno / Sparks.

The real estate markets play a crucial role in the overall economy, and shortages can have ripple effects that contribute to inflationary pressures in various ways like cost overruns, supply and demand imbalances, upward wage pressure, and increased travel times which make Northern Nevadans less productive and making property management in Reno more pricey. Left unchecked, it can lead to stagflation in our economy. These elevated costs have yet to work their way through our local economy; this is why I think it’ll be here for a while.

Don't present a problem without a solution, so how can it be fixed? The Fed is trying to “stop the train”. I say, give it more track by lowering rates to free up capital to address real estate shortages head on, open zoning, increase densities, and incentivize construction. Nevadans must support the lands bills, which will assist in creating more development and to help manage our growth. All aboard approach.

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