Subdued CPI Disappoints Economic Illiterates

The more subdued the better for all of us, but the economic illiterates at Bloomberg Econoday do not see it that way.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.5 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.

CPI Basket

Falling prices are good. They make more things affordable and improve standards of living. Illiterate writers bemoan good things.

The Econoday writer, robot, or parrot (I am not sure which) does not see it that way.

Last week's average hourly earnings did in fact set the pace for February's inflation readings, and the word is subdued. The CPI and the core CPI both managed only 0.2 percent increases as was expected with the year-on-year rates at 2.2 percent overall, which was also expected, but at only 1.8 percent for the core which is 1 tenth under Econoday's consensus.

A give back in transportation costs held down prices in February with the component unchanged following a strong gain in January. New vehicle prices fell 0.5 percent in the month with used car prices down 0.3 percent, both echoing flat consumer demand for vehicles. Communication costs were also weak with wireless telephone services, which began to jump about this time last year, down 0.5 percent in the month. Medical care fell 0.1 percent in the month with recreation flat.

Showing price strength for a second month is apparel, led in February by men's apparel and especially apparel for boys. Housing rose 0.3 percent in the month though the closely watched owners' equivalent rent subcomponent gained only 0.2 percent.

Prices are not risking extra vigilance from the Federal Reserve. Until wages get moving, overall inflation may very well continue to run flat with only the slightest hint of upward pitch.

Summary

Energy prices help keep the CPI "subdued" this month but contributed to 2.2% year-over-year gains. Vehicle prices are slumping month-over-month and year-over-year.

Hooray, your dollar buys more. Economic illiterates believe that is a bad thing.

No Economic Benefit to Inflation

BIS Deflation Study

The BIS did a historical study and found routine price deflation was not any problem at all.

Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive,” stated the study.

For a discussion of the BIS study, please see Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They?

Stupidity Well Anchored

Inflation expectations may or may not be well anchored, but stupidity sure is.

Extremely destructive asset-deflation is right around the bend.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Comments
El_Tedo
El_Tedo

Yes, and eventually they owe us, via Treasuries, stocks and real estate. Neo-cons either ignore this or can't comprehend it and libertarian believe the government should be neutral with regards to this. But, history shows, mercantile nations become empires and nations that consume on credit become poor, although they have the illusion of wealth for a while.

whirlaway
whirlaway

It is incomes that are falling, not prices. There is plenty of inflation when it comes to housing, health insurance and health care, education costs etc.

Terrible trade deals mean that not only US dollars but also our good-paying jobs are exported and replaced by low-paying service jobs that cannot be exported. The exported US dollars come back to buy our assets. That causes housing to become expensive, among other things.

El_Tedo
El_Tedo

I've begun shredding two dollars for every hundred I spend, simply to enjoy the benefits of inflation the government is failing to deliver for me.

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