Inflation: What January’s CPI print means for the Fed

Inflation: What January’s CPI print means for the Fed

what is cpi print

But despite Powell’s efforts, inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose by 0.1% in August, and 8.3% compared to the same period a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed on Tuesday. Hopefully, the authorities see this similarly, and the Fed will not tumble forward into a new round of rate increases, which would inflict significant collateral damage on the economy (another subject for a forthcoming column). The gap between the unadjusted CPI and the inflation metrics that employ volatility-reduction techniques is larger still. The headline number ranges up to 250 basis points above the adjusted figures. It is also generally agreed that the volatility in the inflation signal should be reduced to get an accurate picture of the broad price trends in the economy. There are many ways to attack this, and the Federal Reserve system has spawned at least half a dozen alternative volatility-reducing metrics.

The rise in core inflation, in particular, likely puts the Fed’s goal of a “soft landing”—where inflation is controlled without sparking a recession—out of reach, according to EY-Parthenon’s chief economist Gregory Daco. If the next CPI report surprises to the upside like the January jobs report did, it will further dash hopes for a more dovish central bank in the latter part of 2023. Worse, rising interest rates raise the possibility of a Fed-induced recession. But try as the Fed might to tame inflation by increasing unemployment, the labor market has thus far refused to play along. These facts alone make it harder for the Fed to ease up on its rate policy. Meanwhile, Boston Fed President Susan Collins and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester see rate cuts later this year.

what is cpi print

Shelter category prices accounting for a third of the overall CPI are based on a survey of rental prices for 50,000 housing units, which is then used to calculate the rise in rental prices as well as owners’ equivalents. A softer-than-expected CPI report could mean the Fed is done raising interest rates this cycle. However, Hatfield argues the Fed’s policies of raising interest rates and shrinking its balance sheet, thereby reducing the money supply, will eventually work to control inflation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1276 points (or 3.94%) to 31,104 after the inflation data went public, as experts were quick to sound the alarm about the rising potential for a Fed-induced recession.

It doesn’t cover spending by people living in farm households, institutions, or on military bases. CPI-U is the basis of the widely reported CPI numbers that matter to financial markets.The BLS also publishes the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The CPI-W covers 29% of the U.S. population living in households with income derived predominantly from clerical employment or jobs with an hourly wage.

Experts Weigh in on the Next CPI Report

Price change for each subcategory is provided with and without seasonal adjustment. Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics samples 80,000 prices monthly to calculate the CPI, weighing the index for each product or service in proportion to its share of recent consumer spending to calculate the overall change in prices. The calculation also factors in the substitution effect as consumers shift spending away from the products rising in price on a relative basis. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices and is considered to be a better predictor of inflation, increased 4% over the past 12 months – the slowest rate since September 2021. Moderating energy prices helped October’s CPI to rise by 3.2% on an annual basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents a significant slowdown from the previous month’s 3.7% rise in prices, and is the lowest headline inflation reading since July.

The Core PCE, on a 3-month annualized run rate, comes in a full 2% lower than the headline CPI. There is actually no such thing as the Adjusted CPI, officially speaking. To get a better picture of what is really happening, the CPI headline figure needs to be qualified and adjusted in several ways, to get closer to a true and accurate understanding of the current price trends in the economy. On the other hand, these additional expenses may burden households and make companies less profitable. All else being equal when the Federal Reserve attempts to lower the CPI, it runs the risk of unintentionally increasing unemployment rates. More importantly, the Fed could even start cutting rates by the middle of next year, they add.

what is cpi print

The CPI does not explicitly state how different demographics may be impacted by inflation. For example, soaring education costs may adversely impact younger individuals, while the impact of increasing elderly care costs is felt by a different group of individuals. Liz Ann Sonders, the chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, noted in a Tuesday tweet that the OER portion of August’s CPI reading showed a 6.3% year-over-year jump. Jeffrey Roach, LPL Financial’s chief economist, told Fortune that he fears rising electricity and natural gas prices this winter will end up erasing much of the savings Americans earned from falling gas prices in recent weeks.

In fact, inflation has already been brought under control – though you wouldn’t know it from the headlines. Kiplinger is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Be mindful that the CPI is published using national data, even though employees may be more suited to using local data to better understand their specific situation. In addition, some workers covered by collective bargaining agreements may have their wages tied to changes in CPI. Subcategories estimate price changes for everything from tomatoes and salad dressing to auto repairs and sporting events tickets.

The Next CPI Report: What to Expect

“Inflation pressures are especially hurting lower-income households who spend a greater percentage of income on food,” Roach noted. Stocks plunged on Tuesday as fears that the Federal Reserve will ultimately spark a recession spread like wildfire after a hotter-than-expected inflation print. Assuming that the average discrepancies will hold, we might expect that the PCE will come in ½% to 1% lower than the CPI. Overall, it is reasonable to mark down the year-over-year CPI from 3.7% to around 2.7% or so, as the more likely level of “true” inflation (on a year-over-year basis).

  1. And, like most of their peers, the BofA team are also concerned about the rising possibility of a “hard landing” for the U.S. economy.
  2. For this reason, the CPI may not adequately reflect each individual’s experience about costs and changes over time.
  3. As a result of higher-than-targeted CPI calculations, the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates and tapering certain asset purchases.
  4. Critics claim that adjustments for changes in product quality and features understate the CPI.

Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) — the inflation gauge that excludes food and energy prices — rose by 3.9% in January, higher than economists anticipated. January’s hotter than expected inflation reading may be a determent for Federal Reserve officials to initiate interest rate cuts in early 2024, with several officials encouraging caution going forward. With a target inflation rate of 2%, the Fed may enact expansionary monetary policy to stimulate the economy should market growth slow, or enact contractionary monetary policy should the economy (and therefore prices) grow too quickly. In response to higher-than-desired inflation rates via the CPI, the Fed adjusts the Fed funds rate.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

It also shifts federal income tax brackets to ensure taxpayers aren’t subjected to a higher marginal rate as a result of inflation. The latest inflation data should allow the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to keep interest rates unchanged once again at the next Fed meeting. Interest rate traders currently assign a 95% probability to the FOMC leaving rates unchanged at a target range of 5.25% to 5.5% when it concludes its December policy meeting, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. Overall energy prices dipped 5% in August, owing to a 10.6% monthly drop in gasoline prices.

Step 2: Volatility Reducing Adjustments

For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve took unprecedented supervisory and regulatory actions to stimulate the economy. A higher CPI often means that a less stringent government policy is generally in place. This means that debt is often easier to obtain for cheaper and that individuals have greater spending capacity. On the other hand, lower or decreasing CPI may indicate that the government may ease policy that helps boost the economy. The table below represents the CPI basket weighted distribution for food, energy, and all other items.

And although gas prices have dropped sharply since June, experts say energy price relief may not last. As a result of higher-than-targeted CPI calculations, the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates and tapering certain asset purchases. On one hand, these measures aim to slow economic growth, make it more expensive for consumers to acquire debt, and stem monetary supply growth. The CPI and its components are also used as a deflator for other economic indicators, including retail sales and hourly/weekly earnings, to separate fundamental change from that reflecting change in prices. Employees may turn to CPI reports when approaching their employers for a raise based on nationwide increases in labor rates as well as pricing. And for investors, the hot inflation reading means stocks will continue to face pressure as rising rates increase the cost of borrowing and lower market valuations.

Leave a Reply