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Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Bloomberg, Stefano Guidi (Stringer) /Getty Images

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says he is unbothered by inflation concerns raised by economists and market participants recently, and thinks former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers wasn't thinking when he published his recent op-ed in the Washington Post.

What we're hearing: Summers warned about the potential for "inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation, with consequences for the value of the dollar and financial stability," but Stiglitz told Axios that worry about inflation today is "certainly premature" and "totally unnecessary."

Say it with your chest: "I think he didn’t really think through what he was saying because the irony was that we’ve been in a long period where we’ve been facing lack of aggregate demand at the national and global level," he said in an exclusive interview.

  • "So there’s an awful lot of scope to increase demand, both in terms of the American Reinvestment Act and new infrastructure [bill] to bring us back into a more normal world where we don’t face that deficiency of aggregate demand."
  • "The irony is that he himself had talked about the secular stagnation, which means a lack of aggregate demand."

Be smart: Stiglitz argues that because the U.S. has such high economic inequality it is in a unique position to tamp down on inflation should it arise because not only can the Fed raise interest rates, but Congress can raise taxes without hitting those still struggling.

  • "One of the ironic advantages of having a society with as much distortion inequality as we have is that we can raise a lot of revenue by taxing only those with incomes over $400,000 and corporations," he said.
  • "The very fact that there’s so much money at that top gives us a lot of leeway for imposing taxes."

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
11 mins ago - Economy & Business

How to meme a painting

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

How can a physical artwork become an NFT? One new company has just spent $12.9 million on a Banksy in an attempt to try out a new way of converting the real into the virtual.

Why it matters: The art market globally sees volume of about $60 billion per year, almost all of which is trade in physical objects. Art-world insiders including former Christie's c0-chair Loïc Gouzer are on the lookout for ways to monetize physical paintings without necessarily giving up physical ownership of them.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

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