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Friday, February 19, 2010

Core Inflation Declines for the first time since 1982

by Calculated Risk on 2/19/2010 08:30:00 AM

From the BLS report on the Consumer Price Index this morning:

On On a seasonally adjusted basis, the January Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.2 percent ...

The index for all items less food and energy fell 0.1 percent in January. This decline was largely the result of decreases in the indexes for shelter, new vehicles, and airline fares.
Owners' equivalent rent (OER) declined 0.1% in January, and is declining at about a 1% annualized rate. OER has declined for five consecutive months (a record) and is important because it is the largest component of CPI.

Based on reports of falling rents - and a near record high apartment vacancy rate, OER will probably decline for some time, keeping core CPI low and possibly negative this year. Also - falling rents will push up the price-to-rent ratio, and put additional pressure on house prices.