Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Question #5 for 2013: Will the inflation rate rise or fall in 2013?

by Bill McBride on 1/09/2013 12:42:00 PM

Earlier I posted some questions for this year: Ten Economic Questions for 2013. I'll try to add some thoughts, and maybe some predictions for each question.

Note: Here is a review of my 2012 Forecasts

5) Inflation: The Fed has made it clear they will tolerate a little more inflation, but currently the inflation rate is running below the Fed's 2% target. Will the inflation rate rise or fall in 2013?

Here is a look at four key measures of inflation: core CPI (consumer price index), core PCE prices (Personal Consumption Expenditures), median CPI and the trimmed-mean CPI through November 2012.

Inflation Measures Click on graph for larger image.

On a year-over-year basis, the median CPI rose 2.2%, the trimmed-mean CPI rose 1.9%, the CPI rose 1.8%, and the CPI less food and energy rose 1.9%. Core PCE is for October and increased 1.7% year-over-year. These measures suggest inflation is mostly below the Fed's target of 2% on a year-over-year basis.

Here is what I wrote last year on inflation:

There are some people who have been predicting an imminent rapid increase in inflation for almost 3 years - in their view, a sharp increase in inflation is always just around the corner. That view has consistently been wrong, although some people also claim the government measures are not correct and that inflation is much higher than reported.

However private measures show similar results as BEA and BLS measures (see The Billion Prices Project). ...

The bottom line is the inflation rate will probably stay low in 2012 with high unemployment and low resource utilization. I expect QE3 to be announced before mid-year, and that will probably keep the inflation rate near the Fed's target (as opposed to falling further). But I don't see inflation as a significant threat in 2012.
I could just repeat that post with a few of minor changes. The first change is QE3 has already been announced. A second change is that now some people who have been predicting an imminent rapid increase in inflation for almost 4 years! Always wrong, but never in doubt.

A third possible change is related to the recent FOMC statement that indicated the Fed will tolerate an inflation outlook "between one and two years ahead" of 2 1/2 percent. Given the Fed's tolerance for a little more inflation, we might see a little more inflation in 2013 than in 2012 - but I still expect inflation to be near the Fed's target. With high unemployment and low resource utilization, I don't see inflation as a threat in 2013.

Here are the ten questions for 2013 and a few predictions:
Question #1 for 2013: US Fiscal Policy
Question #2 for 2013: Will the U.S. economy grow in 2013?
Question #3 for 2013: How many payroll jobs will be added in 2013?
Question #4 for 2013: What will the unemployment rate be in December 2013?
Question #5 for 2013: Will the inflation rate rise or fall in 2013?
Question #6 for 2013: What will happen with Monetary Policy and QE3?
Question #7 for 2013: What will happen with house prices in 2013?
Question #8 for 2013: Will Housing inventory bottom in 2013?
Question #9 for 2013: How much will Residential Investment increase?
Question #10 for 2013: Europe and the Euro

Last 10 Posts