Inflation an 'attack on America': Billionaire supermarket owner
US Labor Department reports prices for food and energy increased in July
John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner and CEO of New York City supermarket chain Gristedes, warned on Tuesday that inflation is causing an "attack on America."
He argued on FOX Business' "Mornings with Maria" that the poor and middle classes are getting "hurt" by inflation, noting that increased oil prices leads to higher transportation and food costs.
"It’s not the rich that are getting hurt," Catsimatidis said. "It’s the poor and the middle class in America that will be hurt because of inflation."
He noted that price increases will appear in his supermarket chains in September and October.
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The U.S. Labor Department reported last week that prices for food and energy increased in July. On Wednesday the Labor Department reported that its consumer price index rose 5.4% year-over-year in July, matching the prior month's gain as the fastest since August 2008.
Prices increased 0.5% last month, slowing from June’s 0.9% increase. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting a 0.5% gain.
The energy index rose 1.6%, buoyed by a 2.4% gain in gasoline prices.
The Labor Department reported that the price of gas increased 41.8% from the year before and that the price of food increased by 3.4%.
Gas prices have been increasing at the pump for the past few weeks, reaching a national average of $3.19 a gallon as of Monday, which is the most expensive gas price average of the year and $1.01 higher than the same time in 2020, according to AAA. On Tuesday, the national average dropped slightly to $3.18, according to the association.
Gasoline demand fell to 9.43 million barrels per day last week, down from 9.78 million the week prior. Weaker demand has weighed on the price of crude oil with West Texas Intermediate down from its July 30 close.
On Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, slid 35 cents to $66.94 a barrel.
Last week, the Biden administration urged OPEC and its allies to increase oil output to tackle rising gas prices that the administration views as a threat to the global economic recovery.
"While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022," a statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. "At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough."
The request came as the Biden administration attempts to tackle climate change and discourages drilling at home.
President Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project on his first day in office in a series of orders aimed at combating climate change, which also included temporarily suspending the issuance of oil and gas permits on federal lands and waters.
OPEC and its allies believe an added increase to oil production is not necessary despite U.S. pressure to add supplies, Reuters reported, citing sources.
Last month, OPEC+ ministers had agreed to boost supply starting in August until December 2021 by a further 2 million barrels per day, the group reportedly said in a statement.
OPEC+ last year cut production by a record 10 million barrels per day due to collapsed demand during shutdowns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The group had gradually reinstated some supply to leave it with a reduction of about 5.8 million barrels per day.
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Catsimatidis warned on Tuesday that American is in a "very serious situation" as prices continue to rise.
"We’re transferring a lot of wealth because of inflation," he argued, adding that revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project has also contributed to the problem.
"Instead of the United States selling oil production to the world, it’s going to be Russia, OPEC selling oil production to the world," Catsimatidis said.
He acknowledged that oil prices have been dropping recently, but warned that prices are "heading north," especially given OPEC reportedly does not want to increase production further.
Catsimatidis argued that OPEC would rather sell oil at a higher price, predicting the price of oil will increase to $75 or $80 a barrel.
He also argued that "Washington is lying to the consumer."
"They’re saying that we are going to increase taxes on corporations, we are going to increase taxes on the rich, but when you increase taxes on the corporations, guess what? Those corporations increase their prices and reflect it to the consumer," Catsimatidis stressed.
He argued that increased prices for food, gas and heating oil will most affect those who "least can afford to pay."
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Catsimatidis said that inflation is a "tax" on the middle class and the poor, before he argued that "there’s an attack on America" due to the "transfer of wealth."
He warned that the Biden administration is "going to take all the money America has and that America has made the last four years [and] transfer it to China, transfer it to OPEC [and] transfer it to Russia."
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
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FOX Business’ Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.