"The end of Greedflation must surely come. Otherwise, we may be looking at the end of capitalism."
The world is changing, and it's getting more expensive — while wages, as most working people have witnessed in their own lives, have failed to keep up with the rising cost of pretty much everything. According to Albert Edwards, a global strategist at the 159-year-old bank Société Générale, this phenomenon is the result of what he calls "greedflation."
And if we can't find a way to cap that greedflation? Capitalism might have just about run its course, he says.
"After working in finance for over 40 years I had felt there wasn't much that could surprise me. Yet I find the unprecedented levels of corporate greedflation in this economic cycle astonishing," the strategist wrote in a note, as reported by The Financial Times.
"The latest release of US whole economy profits data delivered another shock to my weakening confidence that the capitalist system is working as it should," the note continues. "Companies have used first the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine to 'profiteer.'"
In other words, in Edwards' eyes, the fact that Fortune 500 companies are raking in normal — if not record-breaking — profits in the wake of pandemic and war-induced geopolitical and economic stress, while price-gouging consumers as working-class wages stay the same, isn't exactly a sustainable way for people to live.
Sunny Side Down
Edwards has a point. After all, look at the price of eggs, a staple fridge item that households have historically been able to count on as a reliably cheap protein.
Back in December, the price of eggs in the US absolutely skyrocketed, a change that egg producers chalked up to an Avian flu that ripped through American chicken populations in addition to rising prices and economic stress overall. At the same time, however, Cal-Maine Foods, America's largest egg producer, watched its revenue climb by a staggering 718 percent in the first quarter of this year alone, a finding that prompted a wave of criticism and price-gouging accusations.
But the dangers of inflation, according to the economist, go far beyond pricey eggs. This degree of economic stress in an already divided, socially fraught environment will only sow more distress — and ultimately, might just be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back.
"At a time when social cohesion is already fraying at the edges, I think the sight of companies generating super-normal profit margins in a crisis can only inflame social unrest," the strategist's note continued, according to Fortune.
"The end of greedflation must surely come," he added. "Otherwise, we may be looking at the end of capitalism."
READ MORE: 'We may be looking at the end of capitalism': One of the world's oldest and largest investment banks warns 'Greedflation' has gone too far [Fortune]