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March 16, 2007
The Inflation Report: Just Not Getting Better
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the median Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% (3.6% annualized rate) in February. The 16% trimmed-mean Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% (3.6% annualized rate) during the month. The median CPI and 16% trimmed-mean CPI are measures of core inflation calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland based on data released in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly CPI report.
Earlier today, the BLS reported that the seasonally adjusted CPI for all urban consumers rose 0.4% (4.5% annualized rate) in February. The CPI less food and energy rose 0.2% (2.9% annualized rate) on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Over the last 12 months, the median CPI rose 3.6%, the 16% trimmed-mean CPI rose 2.8%, the CPI 2.4%, and the CPI less food and energy 2.7%.
Here's the table:
The somewhat startling nature of inflation measured by the median CPI is a result of the continuing strangeness in the distribution of the expenditure-weighted components of the index:
That's a whopping 67.6 percent of prices (weighted by their importance in the CPI market basket) that rose at a better than three percent annual rate in February. That just can't be good.
UPDATE: The Capital Spectator says "As warning bells go, this one looks pretty convincing." The Skeptical Speculator believes "the Fed will be hesitant about cutting rates." Dean Baker thinks we should be keeping our eye on the Producer Price Index. I think Barry Ritholtz concurs, and says there is "good cause" for concern. Michael Shedlock ponders the PPI, and offers you the raw material for your stagflation office pool. The Nattering Naybob suggests the data already reveal "raging stagflation." Calculated Risk puts the inflation report together with retail sales and looks ahead to real consumption growth for the first quarter.
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