Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inflation: Another "False Alarm"?

by Bill McBride on 7/23/2014 06:00:00 PM

From Gavyn Davies at the Financial Times: Another false alarm on US inflation?

There have been a few false alarms about a possible upsurge in inflation in the US in the past few years, even as core inflation on most measures has remained extremely subdued. ... Another such scare has been brewing recently.
...
It now seems probable that part of the recent jump in core inflation was just a random fluctuation in the data. ... But the main reason for the lack of concern is that wage pressures in the economy have remained stable, on virtually all the relevant measures. ... there has been yet another false alarm on US inflation.
From Ron Insana at CNBC: Inflation is about to fall—and fall hard
I will make a bet with this country's leading inflationistas, who continue to warn that inflation is about to surge, that they are dead wrong. ...

Agricultural commodity prices, excluding meats, have crashed. Corn, wheat and soybean prices have plummeted on expectations of bumper crops around the world — particularly in the United States. ...
...
Likewise, despite geopolitical hot spots around the world, energy prices have also dropped from recent highs. While oil remains stubbornly above $100 a barrel, both at home and abroad. Were it not for recent events in Ukraine and the Middle East, oil prices may have continued their recent dip below that century mark. ...

With respect to raging wage inflation, that argument is also a non-starter. Wages are rising at a 2 percent to 2.5 percent annual rate, hardly the stuff of wage-price spirals....

For years, and on all counts, inflation hawks have been, let's say, premature in calling for a rapid acceleration in inflation.
My view is inflation is not a concern this year.