201705.15
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Staying Stuck

The rebound in commodity prices is not difficult to understand, perhaps even sympathize with. With everything so depressed early last year, if it turned out to be no big deal in the end then there was a killing to be made. That’s what markets are supposed to do, entice those with liquidity to buy when…

201705.12
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Inflation Is Oil, But Inflation Is Much More Than Consumer Prices

The average annual change in the WTI benchmark price was in April about 25%. That was still a sizable increase year-over-year, and just marginally less than March’s average of 33%. For calculated inflation rates, it represents the last of the base effects that have to this point made it appear as if economic improvement was…

201705.10
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China Inflation Now, Too

We can add China to the list of locations where the near euphoria about inflation rates is rapidly falling apart. This is an important blow, as the Chinese economy has been counted on to lead the world out of this slump if through nothing other than its own sheer recklessness. “Stimulus” was all the rage…

201705.01
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2

The Irony of Stable Inflation

In February 2000, the FOMC quietly switched from the CPI to the PCE Deflator as its standard for inflation measurement. There were various technical reasons for doing so, including the CPI’s employment of a geometric mean basis (which was in 2015 finally altered to a Constant Elasticity of Substitution formula). But it was one phrase…

201704.17
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Transitory

I suspect that Federal Reserve officials would prefer to not speak about inflation, nor ever again be asked about it. When oil prices first crashed at the end of 2014, they said it was a “transitory” phenomenon not worthy of much attention. Or if it was to be given some consideration, it was a benefit…

201703.31
1
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Systemic Depression Is A Clear Choice

Looking back on late 2015, it is perfectly clear that policymakers had no idea what was going on. It’s always easy, of course, to reflect on such things with the benefit of hindsight, but even contemporarily it was somewhat shocking how complacent they had become as a global group. In the US, the Federal Reserve…

201703.31
2
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The Power of Oil

For the first time in 57 months, a span of nearly five years, the Fed’s preferred metric for US consumer price inflation reached the central bank’s explicit 2% target level. The PCE Deflator index was 2.12% higher in February 2017 than February 2016. Though rhetoric surrounding this result is often heated, the actual indicated inflation…

201703.29
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The Ultimate Q

I for go one can’t wait for a quadrillion. Nothing could so far both implicate Economists as well as demonstrate the folly of following them like the potential for the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet to hit that mark. In the coming months, BoJ will be at the halfway point, though I doubt there will…

201703.23
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Stuck In Yesterday

It is understandable why everyone is right now fixated on Washington. The repeal, or not, of Obamacare is, to paraphrase former Vice President Biden, a big deal. In terms of market expectations, it is difficult to discern by how much. That was to be, after all, but one step of several reductions to the administrative…

201703.15
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1

Inflation, But Only Where It Hurts

The Consumer Price Index increased 2.74% in February 2017 over February 2016. That was the highest inflation rate registered in this format since February 2012. As has been the case for the past three months, the acceleration of headline inflation is due almost exclusively to the sharp increase in oil prices as compared to the…