Profiteering Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Dec 20, 2021

Peter Coy

Dec. 20, 2021, 3:00 p.m. ET

Credit... The New York Times; Photography by Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images

Peter Coy

Businesses have increased their profits at the same time that they have raised their prices, so it’s natural to ask whether profiteering is responsible for inflation. “Corporate America has seized on the fears of inflation to jack up prices on you and make a ton more money,” Faiz Shakir, who worked on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year and is the founder of an advocacy journalism organization called More Perfect Union, wrote in an article in The New Republic last month.

The numbers support the idea that companies have widened their profit margins through higher prices. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, corporate profits plunged in the 2020 recession, but they have since rebounded, and they were 22 percent higher in this year’s July-to-September quarter than in the same period two years earlier, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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