consumer price index

Inflation Rises At Fastest Pace In 5 Years

It’s been some time since a Survival And Prosperity post focused on inflation.

I suspect I’ll be blogging about it more in the coming months.

Jeffry Bartash wrote on MarketWatch this morning:

Inflation rose in 2016 at the fastest pace in five years, as rising rents and medical care and higher gas prices put a squeeze on consumers.

The consumer price index jumped 0.3% in December, the government said Wednesday…

A string of sharp gains since late summer helped drive up inflation by 2.1% for the full year, marking the biggest increase since a 3% gain in 2011

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bartash added:

For now it doesn’t look like inflation will wane soon. Gas prices rose again in January and many economists predict that aggressive stimulative measures by the new Trump administration could lead to even higher inflation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Jeffrey Sparshott added over on The Wall Street Journal website late this afternoon:

The latest figures- driven in part by an uptick in energy prices- suggest a four-year stretch of historically low inflation could be ending

While details remain uncertain, the president-elect has pledge lower taxes and more infrastructure spending. That could lead to faster economic growth and accelerating inflation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As to what this might mean for interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke to the Commonwealth Club of California this afternoon. Ann Saphir reported on the Retuers website:

With the U.S. economy close to full employment and inflation headed toward the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent goal, it “makes sense” for the U.S. central bank to gradually lift interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday…

The Fed chief said that she and other Fed policymakers expected the central bank to lift its key benchmark short-term rate “a few times a year” through 2019, putting it near the long-term sustainable rate of 3 percent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bartash, Jeffry. “Inflation climbs at fastest pace in 5 years, CPI shows.” MarketWatch. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/inflation-climbs-in-2016-at-fastest-pace-in-5-years-cpi-shows-2017-01-18). 18 Jan. 2017.

Sparshott, Jeffrey. “U.S. Inflation Gauge Tops 2%, Supporting Fed’s Plan to Raise Rates.” The Wall Street Journal. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-consumer-prices-up-2-1-in-december-from-year-earlier-1484746534). 18 Jan. 2017.

Saphir, Ann. “Fed’s Yellen says ‘make sense’ to gradually raise interest rates.” Reuters. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fed-yellen-idUSKBN1522VH). 18 Jan. 2017.

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Peter Schiff: ‘Economy May Be Entering A Period Of Stagflation’

“I think now you’re going to see big increases in consumer prices. Remember the stagflation of the 1970s. Except this is going to have a lot more stagnation and a lot more inflation. And unlike what Ronald Reagan did at the end of that decade to put out that fire, nothing like that is going to happen this time because we can’t do it. We don’t have the tools. We can’t raise interest rates to fight inflation no matter how high inflation rises because that’s how broke we are. The only things keeping our institutions afloat, including the federal government, is artificially-low interest rates. And the more debt we have, the more important those low interest rates are to maintain the illusion of solvency. So, inflation is going to keep on going up and that is going to cause a flight from the dollar…”

-Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, in a February 5, 2016, entry on The Schiff Report vlog on YouTube.com

“Stagflation.” The word sends a shiver down my spine. And while Peter Schiff’s mention of it earlier this month caught my attention, alarm bells were sounding when the “crash prophet” talked more about stagflation in his Euro Pacific Capital weekly commentary that was just released Monday. From that piece:

Many were largely caught off guard by the arrival last Friday (February 19th) of new inflation data from the Labor Department that showed that the core consumer price index (CPI) rose in January at a 2.2 % annualized rate, the highest in more than 4 years, well past the 2.0% benchmark that the Fed has supposedly been so desperately trying to reach. It was received as welcome news…

In the past I argued that even a tiny, symbolic, quarter point increase would be sufficient to prick the enormous bubble that eight years of stimulus had inflated. Early results show that I was likely right on that point. The truth is that the economy may be entering a period of “stagflation” in which very low (or even negative) growth is accompanied by rising prices. This creates terrible conditions for consumers whereby prices rise but incomes don’t. This leads to diminished living standards.

The recent uptick in inflation does not somehow invalidate all the other signs that have pointed to a rapidly decelerating economy. Just because inflation picks up does not mean that things are getting better. It actually means they are about to get a whole lot worse. Stagflation is in fact THE nightmare scenario for the Fed. If inflation catches fire now, the Fed will be completely incapable of controlling it. If a measly 25 basis point increase could inflict the kind of damage already experienced, imagine what would happen if the Fed made a real attempt to raise rates to get out in front of rising inflation? With growth already close to zero, a monetary shock of 1% or 2% rates could send us into a recession that could end up putting Donald Trump into the White House. The Fed would prefer that fantasy never become reality…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, went on to predict a dollar collapse, accelerating consumer price increases, and the U.S. Treasury bubble bursting with this scenario. A grim outlook, which you can read in its entirety on the Euro Pacific Capital website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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