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The Munk Debates: S02 #21 – Inflation


Debaters: Manoj Pradhan, David Rosenberg

April 19,2021

Be it resolved, get ready for a big, long-term surge in inflation.

20 trillion dollars of government stimulus in countries around the world. Interest rates so low there is no incentive to save. And more than half a billion vaccinated consumers ready to pull out their wallets and kick off the Roaring 20s of the 21st century. Some experts believe that a surge of inflation, such as we have not seen since the 1970s, is now in the cards. Inflation bulls argue that the post pandemic recovery is just one of many trends converging to create rising prices for years to come. They argue that demographics and in particular an aging population that shrinks the labour force and dramatically increases health costs are accelerants for long term inflation.

Skeptics argue that post pandemic recoveries typically drive prices down, not up: the mindset after experiencing a plague is to pay down debt not spend more. And while the government may be printing money at a record pace, the rapid technological change brought on by COVID will ramp up automation of workforces driving wages down. And with interest rates on safer investments like bonds suppressed by central banks, aging populations will spend less, suppressing consumer demand. The spectre of a long term rise in inflation is just that, a fiction of our imaginations.


Manoj Pradhan

“In 2010 the world started going through a great demographic reversal. The elderly are going to take over, and they consume more, which will lead to a trend of higher inflation over the next 30-35 years.”
Manoj Pradhan is the founder of Talking Heads Macroeconomics, an independent research firm. Manoj was most recently Managing Director at Morgan Stanley where he led the Global Economics team. He joined Morgan Stanley in 2005 after serving on the faculty of George Washington University and the State University of New York. Manoj works on thematic global macroeconomics, with a focus on emerging markets. He has a PhD in economics from George Washington University and a Masters in Finance from the London Business School.

Stephen Webb

“There’s a fundamental change happening with consumers. The US is in a prolonged period of households getting their balance sheet in better repair. A lot of the stimulus is going to get saved not spent.”

David Rosenberg is the President and Chief Economist & Strategist of Rosenberg Research & Associates Inc., an economic consulting firm he established in January 2020. He and his team have as their top priority providing investors with analysis and insights to help them make well-informed investment decisions. 

Prior to Rosenberg Research, David was Chief Economist & Strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. from 2009 to 2019. From 2002 to 2009, he was Chief North American Economist at Merrill Lynch in New York, during which he was consistently ranked in the Institutional Investor All-Star analyst rankings. Prior thereto, he was Chief Economist and Strategist for Merrill Lynch Canada, based out of Toronto, where he and his team placed first in the Brendan Woods survey of Canadian economists for ten years in a row. 

Mr. Rosenberg is a frequent contributor to most major financial newspapers and publications in North America and makes regular TV appearances in the financial media. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Toronto.

About Munk Debates

We are the world’s first podcast dedicated to convening one-on-one debates between today’s biggest thinkers and sharpest minds. Our mission is to create space for civil and substantive debates on the big issues of the day – free of spin, focused on facts and animated by smart conversation. Join us each week for a fresh take on the complex, controversial and compelling debates of our time.

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