Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fed Policy or the Weather?

Stephan Karlson cherry picks August's measure of inflation and writes
the Fed stated that money supply rose 0.3% the latest week alone, causing the annualized 3 month gain to increase to 8.6% and the yearly gain to increase to 7%.
And then the U.S. consumer price index rose 0.6% (annualized 7.4%) in August.
He didn't put the month's inflation numbers in longer-run context, or relative to other measures like  "core" inflation which removes food and energy.  He nevertheless concludes
So, it is clear that unless the European debt crisis again worsens and again causes a surge in demand for dollar  assets, there will be a big increase in price inflation soon.
So, here is a graph that does put August's inflation numbers in context. Blue is monthly percent change in the CPI and red is the monthly percent change in "core" CPI, which removes food and energy (which are more volatile).

The two obvious points: (1) the monthly CPI is crazy variable; (2) the recent spike in the CPI was all energy and food; everything else declined.

Maybe, just maybe, the pattern can be explained by the drought and heat we experienced this summer, which caused some big crop losses.  I think it's safe to say monetary policy didn't have much to do with it.

Originally the title to Karlson's post was "Inflation, Inflation, Inflation!" It's a little more tame now. 

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