Inflation galloping ahead according to January data
The producer price index roared ahead in January at double the rate economists forecasted:
The producer price index, which measures final-demand goods and services, increased 1% for the month, against the Dow Jones estimate for 0.5%. Over the past 12 months the gauge rose an unadjusted 9.7%, close to a record in data going back to 2010.
Excluding food, energy and trade services, co-called core PPI increased 0.9% for the month, well ahead of the 0.4% estimate. For the 12-month period, the measure increased 6.9%. Both core and headline PPI gains over the year were 0.1 percentage point lower than the record levels hit in December 2021.
So does that mean we’re past the worst of the inflation scare, and can look forward to somewhat better times ahead? Well…
The numbers come a day after the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations for January saw a surprise decrease in short- and medium-term inflation expectations. The one-year outlook decreased to 5.8% from 6% the previous month, while the three-year expectations slid half a percentage point to 3.5%.
Market-based inflation measures over 5- and 10-year spans remain elevated but are off the spikes they saw in November 2021.
It’s possible, then, that inflation will moderate. That would be a very good thing – inflation is a quiet destroyer of paychecks and savings. Curbing the beast is in everyone’s interest. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to sound an all-clear. There are generation of consumers out there today who have no idea how insidiously destructive inflation can be. The advice for them is as old as it is simple: Prepare for the worst…but hope for the best.