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UW economist looks back, forward at pandemic-induced price spikes


In Wisconsin, the pandemic spiked prices for things completely unrelated to health, sanitization, and cleaning.

Consumers noticed homes, cars, and raw materials cost a lot more than they had before.

UW-Madison economist Dr. Moses Altsech said the pinch started when upper middle class workers had more money available when they didn’t leave the house.

“You have all of this money sitting around that’s unspent. Then, the government starts sending you stimulus checks out the wazoo, which, for some people, are life-savers. For some people, they are purely disposable income they did not need because they are still getting paid working from home,” Altsech said in an interview with WXPR. “So now you can afford a brand-new car. Now you can afford a brand-new house, a home renovation. There’s money floating around. There’s huge demand. That creates an increase in inflation, of course. Prices are starting to go up.”

Altsech believes the travel and tourism industry will be the next to see a dramatic price spike due to the pandemic.

“Wait until the entire world is open. All of these people who, by then, will not have gone on vacation for two years, two and a half years, all going to Disneyworld. They’re all going to the Greek islands. They’re all going someplace. Look for price spikes when it comes to that,” he said.

Altsech explained why certain products and services rise and fall in accordance with pandemic demands. Hear why by listening to the full interview.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.