Friday, January 14, 2011

Core measures of inflation increase in December

by Bill McBride on 1/14/2011 12:43:00 PM

The Cleveland Fed released the median CPI and the trimmed-mean CPI this morning:

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the median Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% (1.7% annualized rate) in December. The 16% trimmed-mean Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% (1.6% annualized rate) during the month. ...

Earlier today, the BLS reported that the seasonally adjusted CPI for all urban consumers rose 0.5% (6.2% annualized rate) in December. The CPI less food and energy increased 0.1% (1.1% annualized rate) on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Over the last 12 months, the median CPI rose 0.6%, the trimmed-mean CPI rose 0.8%, the CPI rose 1.5%, and the CPI less food and energy rose 0.8%
So these three measures: core CPI, median CPI and trimmed-mean CPI, all increased less than 1% over the last 12 months.

However, all three increased in December at an annualized rate - although still below the Fed's target of around 2%. The headline CPI number reflects the surge in oil prices.

Inflation Measures Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

This graph shows these three measure of inflation on a year-over-year basis.

They all show that inflation has been falling, and that measured inflation is up less than 1% year-over-year.

Note: The Cleveland Fed has a discussion of a number of measures of inflation: Measuring Inflation

Rent InflationThe indexes for rent and owners' equivalent rent both increased in December.

By these measures rents have bottomed and are starting to increase again (this fits with earlier reports of falling vacancy rates and rising rents). I don't expect rents to push up inflation very much (I think core inflation will stay low for some time with all the slack in the system), but rising rents suggests that the excess rental housing units are being absorbed - a necessary step for an eventual recovery in residential investment.