Inflation is the big economic news these days, with many factors feeding it. It’s a topic we’ve covered many times, in detail and in passing.
Here’s a review of a few posts from “The Geyser” that discussed inflation’s inevitability and effects, both in scholarly publishing and in society as a whole — in reverse-chronology order.
June 20, 2021
We’re headed into a time of inflation, but the reasons seem compelling. Expectations have changed, a spell has been broken, and people are feeling the injustice of the status quo. They want more. To some extent, the level of inflation will depend on how hard the status quo works to maintain margins. This includes universities and governments. If they join in a shift toward lower margins and greater equity, inflation may be low and lingering — and that can pay off for everyone in the long run. If they try to throttle change, inflation could spike unpredictably.
January 7, 2020
The assumption that providers of these services are going to passively accept unmitigated financial downsides at the hands of governmental or university policies is also likely to prove wrong. If users aren’t paying to fund these increasingly complicated evaluation services by trusted intermediaries, producers will have to fund them. And that’s something publishers have been pointing out as a contingency plan for a long time. That contingency may be about to be operationalized.
May 31, 2019
So stating that publisher price increases surpass the average rate of inflation is basically an observation, not a condemnation. Yes, this may happen, but that’s because of a variety of factors, inflation in general has been very low generally for a very long time (which has some people concerned), and the average isn’t prescriptive.
Perhaps the biggest “tell” betraying the illegitimacy of the argument that it’s somehow unusual or improper for publisher price increases to exceed the rate of consumer inflation is that the rate of salary increases and library expenditures exceed the rate of inflation, as well.
It may just be that the administration of scientific and scholarly publishing — which lives at the vanguard of knowledge, and is largely a human endeavor currently — is more expensive to conduct than harvesting corn or selling diapers.
More to come on this topic, but as we see APCs increasing, wage pressures driving up costs for some things, university enrollments fall, competition for employees stiffen, and fuel costs go through the roof due to supply issues and corporate greed, it’s clear inflation is going to be with us for some time to come. The cause matters — higher wages make it tolerable, while corporate profiteering can force a recession.