CPI came in in-line with expectations. The headline figure was 0.4% while the CPI less food and energy came in at 0.1%. These are relatively benign figures. There are no serious signs of deflation and inflation isn’t running wild. Not too hot and not too cold. A Goldilocks figure in case you’re a Kudlow fan. Unfortunately for those of us who are growing increasingly concerned about the perpetual boom bust cycle created by easy money, this only throws fuel on the fire. Bernanke is now in the exact position he wants to be – wait and see mode. That means the fire can rage while the Fed chief twiddles his thumbs. Much like he did when he kept rates too high in 2007 and much like Greenspan did in 2003 when he kept rates too low. If the global economy begins to take off as it did in 2003 we are almost certain to see a repeat of the boom portion of the cycle in the coming years. Of course, the likelihood of a following bust is high….Econoday has some thoughts on the data:
Several factors kept the core rate soft. The cash-for-clunkers tax credits helped push prices for new vehicles down by 1.3 percent. Apparel slipped 0.1 percent. Shelter costs were sluggish, including owners’ equivalent rent rising only 0.1 percent. The recession has kept rents soft which also impact owners’ equivalent rent which is based on actual rent for owner-type houses. On the upside, prescription drugs increased 0.6 percent and airline fares jumped 1.7 percent.
Year-on-year, headline inflation rose to minus 1.4 (seasonally adjusted) from down 1.9 percent in July. The core rate eased to up 1.5 percent in July from up 1.6 percent the previous month. On an unadjusted year-ago basis, the headline number was down 1.5 percent in August while the core was up 1.4 percent.
Outside of energy, consumer price inflation is subdued, leaving the Fed flexibility for when to start unwinding its balance sheet expansion. Given that the August numbers matched expectations, there should be little market reaction today. But the higher energy costs serve as a reminder that when recovery strengthens, oil prices and headline inflation are likely headed up. Bond traders should take note.
In other news. industrial production came in better than expected at 69.6%. This continues the positive trend in manufacturing that we’ve been seeing since July. Econday reports:
In August, industrial production posted another large gain, making more believers that the recession is over-especially for manufacturing. And it was not just rebuilding auto inventories after the cash-for-clunkers boost in sales. Also, a large upward revision to July also means that we may have to reconsider that the recovery began as early as July. Overall industrial production in August increased a hefty 0.8 percent, following a revised 1.0 percent boost in July. The advance in the latest month came in above the market projection for a 0.7 percent increase. July’s revision was substantially higher than the original estimate of a 0.5 percent increase. For the latest month, the manufacturing component rose 0.6 percent after surging 1.4 percent in July. For August, utilities rebounded 1.9 percent while mining output advanced 0.5 percent.
All in all another set of positive news. The rally continues….
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.