Inflation | - Part 4

Rising Prices and the Fed

Given the dearth of officially reported consumer price inflation in recent years, don’t look for this to be a major topic today when new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before the House Financial Services Committee in the first of two appearances on Capitol Hill this week to present the central bank’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress.

That’s not to say that it won’t be at some point in Yellen’s tenure…

Nevertheless, there is clearly an ongoing disagreement about how fast prices will rise as this WSJ story details the differing views on inflation between the experts and the laymen.

Predicting Prices

In short, Americans think inflation will be about twice as high as the Fed does, however, as noted in the article, there are fundamental differences in how consumers view current and potential price changes and how economists view them.

Also, kudos to Ms. Yellen who mentions the word “inflation” an impressive 11 times in her prepared testimony today. Somehow, I don’t think this will be quite enough to stop some Republicans from expressing their grave concern about it.

The Labor Department reported that overall consumer prices in the U.S. rose by 0.2 percent from June to July and that the official annual rate of inflation now stands at 2.0 percent, up from just 1.1 percent as recently as three months ago.

Rising costs for both energy products and housing were primarily responsible for the upward trend, however, year-over-year price comparisons will soon see downward pressure as big monthly increases from last August and September (as indicated below) will roll out of the calculation in the months ahead.

July Consumer Prices

A full one percentage point of the current 2.0 percent inflation rate came last summer when prices rose 0.5 percent in August and again in September, so, absent a similar surge this year, the inflation rate will go down when August prices are reported next month.


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Santelli vs. Liesman on Inflation

In advance of today’s latest government data on inflation (or the lack thereof), CNBC personalities Steve Liesman and Rick Santelli tangle over rising prices and Federal Reserve policy. It begins at about the one minute mark and heats up about a minute later.

I’m not sure about the government’s measure of inflation, particularly as it relates to the so-called “cost of living adjustments” the elderly receive for social security, but I am sure of one thing – these guys really hate each other, or at least they act that way.

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Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck in the U.S.

Some sobering statistics about what it’s like trying to make ends meet for many people in America today (click on the image below for the entire depressing data set – just that one about the cost of housing, education, and health care is enough to make you ill).

Paycheck To Paycheck
Source: Accounting School Guide

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