From "Remarks by President Biden During Greet With MGM Resorts Management and Culinary Leaders," Las Vegas, Nevada, February 5, 2024:
And guess what? You've heard me say it before, and I mean it. And when I first said it, everybody thought I was going to get in real trouble, but I didn't care. Wall Street did not build America. The middle class did — built America, and unions built the middle class. ...
We have the best economy in the world. Inflation is coming down. There are still too expensive — too much is at expense and a little bit of corporate greed going on, too, nationwide. (Laughter.)
Attributing inflation to "corporate greed" seems hard to support. Some companies are raising prices simply to cover their own increases in costs. If firms are using the overall inflationary environment to impose price increases that increase profits, what's happening is not "corporate greed" but optimizing value for shareholders. The genius of capitalism is that a lot of companies have figured out they can make more profits by offering customers lower prices rather than higher prices. That may sound counterintuitive, but it builds long-term customer loyalty and trust. Ikea, for example, has a whole category called "new lower price" where they show you the old higher price and the date they cut the price. Biden says "corporate greed" as if it's something sinister, but the countervailing force is consumer greed for lower prices. I'm not sure "greed" is the right word. In some cases there is a zero-sum pricing game between consumer savings and owner profits, but in competitive markets, the price dance happens in ways where there is plenty of value generated on both sides of the transaction—for the seller and for the buyer. That's why the transaction is voluntary and mutual.
Anyway, it's an election year, so Biden is throwing around terms like "corporate greed" and "Wall Street did not build America" in an apparent attempt to help his re-election chances. We'll see whether that works, but it'd be a shame if the politics obscured the basic economics. Perhaps Biden is blaming the inflation on "corporate greed" because he doesn't talk about the real causes. Those include reckless overspending by Washington politicians, monetary policy that stayed too easy for too long, a supply chain too reliant on Communist China, energy policies that drove up the cost of energy, and housing policies that drove up the cost of housing.