Forecasters Miss Inflation Targets By a Mile: Steep Decline in Ag Export Prices

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The consensus expected import prices to rise by 0.7% and exports by 0.5%. Instead, both prices rose by 0.2%.

Missed by a Mile

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The BLS report on Import and Export Prices for April 2019 has some interesting details, specifically bad for US farmers. First let's look at the overall numbers.

Import Prices

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Import Price Synopsis

  • All Items: The price index for U.S. imports rose 0.2 percent in April, continuing the upward trend that began in January. The April rise followed a 0.6-percent advance in March and a 1.0-percent increase in February. Despite the recent monthly advances, import prices declined 0.2 percent for the 12-month period ended in April. The April year-over-year decrease was driven by lower nonfuel prices.
  • Fuel Imports: The price index for fuel imports rose 2.5 percent in April, after increasing 6.9 percent in March and 10.2 percent in February. A 6.1-percent rise in petroleum prices drove the increase in fuel prices. Natural gas prices declined 53.7 percent in April, the largest decrease since the index was first published on a monthly basis in December 1994. Fuel prices rose 6.9 percent over the past 12 months. The price index for petroleum increased 7.0 percent for the year ended in April, and prices for natural gas declined 10.5 percent over the same period. The 12-month decrease in natural gas prices was the largest decline since the index fell 27.3 percent in June 2018.
  • All Imports Excluding Fuel: The price index for nonfuel imports edged down 0.1 percent in April, after falling 0.2 percent in March. In April, falling prices for finished goods and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials more than offset an increase in prices for foods, feeds, and beverages. Nonfuel import prices declined 0.9 percent from April 2018 to April 2019, the largest 12-month drop since the index fell 0.9 percent for the year ended August 2016. All of the major import categories except foods, feeds, and beverages contributed to the decrease in nonfuel prices over the past year.
  • Finished Goods: Prices for imported finished goods were down in April. The price index for capital goods declined 0.4 percent, and consumer goods and automotive vehicles prices decreased 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
  • Foods, Feeds, and Beverages Imports: The price index for foods, feeds, and beverages rose 2.8 percent in April, the largest monthly advance since the index increased 3.1 percent in July 2016. The April advance was driven by higher prices for fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Export Prices

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Export Price Synopsis

  • All Items: The price index for U.S. exports advanced 0.2 percent in April, after increasing 0.6 percent in March and 0.7 percent in February. Rising prices for nonagricultural exports led the overall advance in April and more than offset a decline in prices for agricultural exports. U.S. export prices rose 0.3 percent over the 12-month period ended in April.
  • Agricultural Exports: The price index for agricultural exports decreased 1.5 percent in April following a 1.0-percent advance in March. The April decline was driven by a 17.2-percent decrease in vegetable prices and a 6.8-percent decline in fruit prices. A 2.6-percent drop in corn prices also contributed to the overall decline in April. Prices for agricultural exports fell 2.8 percent over the past year. The 12-month decrease was led by a 14.1-percent drop in soybean prices. Lower prices for fruit, cotton, nuts, meat, and corn also contributed to the over-the-year decline in agricultural export prices.
  • All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Nonagricultural export prices rose 0.4 percent in April, after increasing 0.7 percent the previous month. Higher prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials drove the increase in nonagricultural export prices, although rising prices for automotive vehicles also contributed. The price index for nonagricultural exports increased 0.7 percent over the past year.

Agricultural Imports and Exports Synopsis

  • Agricultural Exports: The price index for agricultural exports decreased 1.5 percent in April following a 1.0-percent advance in March. The April decline was driven by a 17.2-percent decrease in vegetable prices and a 6.8-percent decline in fruit prices. A 2.6-percent drop in corn prices also contributed to the overall decline in April. Prices for agricultural exports fell 2.8 percent over the past year. The 12-month decrease was led by a 14.1-percent drop in soybean prices. Lower prices for fruit, cotton, nuts, meat, and corn also contributed to the over-the-year decline in agricultural export prices.
  • Foods, Feeds, and Beverages Imports: The price index for foods, feeds, and beverages rose 2.8 percent in April, the largest monthly advance since the index increased 3.1 percent in July 2016. The April advance was driven by higher prices for fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Those items are a repeat from the above text to make it easy for a side-by-side comparison.

Can Trump take the pain?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (7)
No. 1-4
Bam_Man
Bam_Man

When enough major players agree that settling international trade accounts with Ponzi IOU's that are bound to become worthless is no longer acceptable and we go back on some sort of International Gold Standard (by re-valuing Gold to $20,000+/oz), the Fed will then, instantly have met its "inflation target".

Bam_Man
Bam_Man

Japan and the Eurozone have already shown that QE doesn't work in meeting "inflation targets". Neither do negative interest rates.

magoomba
magoomba

Inflation causes depression.

Sechel
Sechel

Very tough for Trump to admit a mistake. Others will need to do that for him. In the meantime we could see agricultural bankruptcies