The tiff began after economics reporter Sudeep Reddy criticized Palin's keynote speech at the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) trade show in Phoenix on Monday in a post on the Wall Street Journal's 'Real Time Economics' blog.
In her remarks, Palin blasted the Federal Reserve's decision to buy $600 billion in long-term U.S. Treasury bonds over the next eight months – a policy known as quantitative easing – in order to help jumpstart economic recovery. The move, Palin said, "deeply concern[s] her."
"Everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so. Pump priming would push them even higher. And it's not just groceries," Palin said in her remarks.
"Maybe it's time for Chairman Bernanke to cease and desist. We don't want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings," Palin continued.
But in a post entitled, "Sarah Palin's QE2 Criticism Includes Inflation Hyperbole," Reddy took issue with Palin's analysis, saying, "Grocery prices haven't risen all that significantly, in fact. The consumer price index's measure of food and beverages for the first nine months of this year showed average annual inflation of less than 0.6%, the slowest pace on record (since the Labor Department started keeping this measure in 1968)."
Reddy's criticism prompted a harsh rebuttal from Palin in a Facebook post "Do Wall Street Journal Reporters Read the Wall Street Journal?
"Really?" Palin said in response to Reddy's dismissal of higher grocery prices. "That's odd, because just last Thursday, November 4, I read an article in Mr. Reddy's own Wall Street Journal titled "Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices: Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies."
"The article noted that 'an inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America's supermarkets and restaurants…Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months,'" Palin said in the post.
But in a second post on Tuesday, Reddy cited Labor and Commerce Department data that he said indicates "overall food price inflation has been historically low for the past year." Reddy said that while some commodities prices have increased, retailers have been reluctant to pass those costs on to customers due to "weak demand, high unemployment and thrifty shoppers."
Reddy pointed out that the sentence Palin quoted actually said, "An inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America's supermarkets and restaurants, threatening to end the tamest year of food pricing in nearly two decades."
"It does indeed report that supermarkets and restaurants are facing cost pressures that could push their retail prices higher – but it hasn't happened yet on a large scale," Reddy said. "Critics of the Fed's quantitative easing policy are focused primarily on concerns about potential future inflation."