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Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

During the 1970s, the last sustained period of inflation, economist Arthur Okun invented the misery index — the sum of inflation and unemployment.

The big picture: The index peaked at 21.2% in 1980; its low point was 5.76% in January 2020, just before the pandemic.

  • Thanks to falling unemployment, the misery index now stands at 9.2%. That's lower than the level of misery seen in the four years following the Great Recession of 2008, but it's still high by the standards of recent decades.
Data: YCharts; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Homeowners might not be unhappy with rising inflation.

Why it matters: Not only are houses a reasonably good inflation hedge in and of themselves, but anybody with a mortgage — about 50 million households — will see the real value of that mortgage eaten away by inflation.

Homebuyers, in particular, have never had it so good. In real terms, the 15-year mortgage rate is now negative — the first time that's ever happened.

  • When mortgage rates fall into negative territory, borrowers end up paying back less, in real terms, than they borrowed in the first place.
  • Note for nerds: What I'm doing in the chart above is taking the 15-year mortgage rate and subtracting the 10-year TIPS breakeven rate, which is the amount of inflation that the market expects to see over the next 10 years. That's roughly the amount of time that borrowers tend to hold a mortgage.
Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Federal Reserve Board; World Bank; McKinsey Global Institute analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Another beneficiary of recent inflation — specifically asset-price inflation — has been household balance sheets, writes Axios' Kate Marino. Americans' net worth has now reached nearly six times the country’s gross domestic product.

  • The past two decades of growth in net worth are mostly due to the appreciation of assets like real estate and equities — not to the accumulation of savings, according to a new report out from McKinsey Global Institute.

Go deeper

Mapping Pennsylvania's Google searches on political issues

Data: Google Trends; Maps: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Pennsylvania's Google searches related to critical race theory occur more often in Democratic congressional districts, according to an Axios analysis of Google Trends data.

  • That includes the 4th and 6th Districts in Philadelphia's suburbs, represented by Rep. Madeleine Dean and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan.
  • Yes, but: The exception to this rule is the 1st District, where Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick represents Bucks and Montgomery counties.

Why it matters: Both parties will use data and technology to pinpoint issues that will resonate locally with voters through the 2022 midterms, Axios' Stef Kight writes.

Biden administration makes first move on data privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights.

Why it matters: An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.