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Authors for macroblog are Dave Altig, John Robertson, and other Atlanta Fed economists and researchers.

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July 19, 2006

The Chairman Soothes, The Data Don't

Chairman Bernanke did his duty today, and completed his semi-annual discussion, on behalf of the Federal Open Market Committee, with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  The market reviews were good.  From the AP, via ABC News:

Wall Street shot higher Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke soothed investors with his view that economic growth seems to be moderating and inflation remains contained. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 220 points, while Treasury bonds recovered from early losses to close sharply higher.

Those early losses were due to the now-forgotten news of the day: The CPI report for June was not good, not good at all.  Here's the short version:





Find any comfort there?  Me neither.  But wait.  It gets worse.  Here is the distribution of price changes (weighted, as usual, by expenditure shares):




So, just over 60 percent of weighted price changes have been rising at a annual pace in excess of 3 percent. And it ain't just energy:




Rent and owner's equivalent rent are certainly implicated...




... but together these components only represent about 30 percent of the CPI market basket. 

These inflationary impulses may very well be temporary -- I'm still guessing they are -- but they are very definitely broad based. 

UPDATE: Mr. Naybob agrees that the price pressures are broad-based, and implicates energy-price pass-through.  But Brad DeLong might disagree with my assessment of the report, advertising the news as "A Slightly, Slightly Unfavorable CPI Report." But The Skeptical Speculator says the news was bad (and does its standard exemplary job of putting things in the context of the broader global context).  Mark Thoma notes that the inflation reports are not helping the case for a pause in FOMC rate hikes.  The Capital Spectator thinks the answer to whether yesterday's market optimism was warranted "awaits in the enxt CPI report."

On Mr. Bernanke's testimomy, Jim Hamilton views the comments as more optimistic than he expected, and more optimistic than he thinks warranted.  Calculated Risk also expresses some skepticism about the Chairman's characterization of the country's economic health (here and here). Toni Straka was disappointed that there was no discussion of the nation's fiscal situation. Stock Trading Update advises that the Bernanke bounce is likely to be short lived.

July 19, 2006 in Data Releases , Federal Reserve and Monetary Policy , Inflation | Permalink


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Listed below are links to blogs that reference The Chairman Soothes, The Data Don't :

» Reading the yield curve from Econbrowser
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» A pause it shall be from Econbrowser
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Tracked on Aug 4, 2006 3:02:29 PM


Nice post.

I could make it uglier, but I'll wait.

Posted by: Movie Guy | July 19, 2006 at 09:47 PM

I dont think Bernanke was trying to soothe the markets. He just tells it like it is. The markets expect him to provide guidance and he just gives us a lecture in economics.

Posted by: vincentm | July 19, 2006 at 10:04 PM

I still feel that high energy prices have yet to work upstream, and CPI will slowly get larger. May not be huge increases, but may slowly creep up past historical averages.

Posted by: Mcwop | July 20, 2006 at 09:32 AM

The year over year change in the CPI is exactly the same as it was when Nixon imposed price controls in aug. 1971.
But of course we have redefined the CPI down since then so really the inflation rate is higher now.

Posted by: spencer | July 20, 2006 at 09:32 AM

Shouldn't any CPI numbers BEFORE the dramatically large BOSKIN adjustments be adjusted downwards to allow for a more reasonable comparison?

Posted by: bailey | July 20, 2006 at 01:19 PM

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