CPI Drops Record 1%

This is somewhat good news for the economy.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 1.0 percent in October, before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The October level of 216.573 (1982-84=100) was 3.7 percent higher than in October 2007.

A drop like this in the CPI suggests that at the very least the Fed can put aside worries of inflation for the moment which means it is unlikely that interest rates will go up. This is the largest one month decrease since 1947 when the BLS started publishing the monthly seasonally adjusted CPI numbers.

The reason for the decline are the large decreases in the energy portion of the index lead by the 14.2 percent drop in the gasoline index. Still gasoline prices are over 12 percent higher than where they were last year.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    It is good news … but we should probably chart it with long term trends. We are unwinding from a commodity bubble even as we try to ferret out deflationary signals.

  2. Steve Verdon says:

    Given the vast amounts of money the Fed has been pumping into the economy I think talk of deflation is a bit premature at this point.

  3. Drew says:

    There is nothing that focuses a central banker like the notion that his banking system is about to implode. Hence, the recent fourfold increase in reserves. Mr. Bernanke might as well be dropping greenbacks from a plane.

    No near term interest rate increases? Indeed.

    But what do we make of inflation down the road, especially when money velocity pick back up??

  4. odograph says:

    Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities (VIPSX) sure is cratering. I guess I could throw my year-end SEP-IRA that way … but I don’t see any strong indication that this would be a good (or bad) move.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    The futures markets seem to be betting on a resurgence of inflation in the spring.

  6. Barry says:

    “Given the vast amounts of money the Fed has been pumping into the economy I think talk of deflation is a bit premature at this point.”

    Drew

    Yah…..when you’re pumping air into your tire as fast as you can, using a more powerful pump than you’ve ever used before – and you’re still losing pressure, things are bad.

    Steve, you might want to read Professor Nobel Laureate Paul ‘He was right and they all were wrong’ Krugman’s book ‘Depression Economics’.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    Steve, you might want to read Professor Nobel Laureate Paul ‘He was wrong’ Krugman’s book ‘Depression Economics’.

    There fixed it for ya. Krugman hasn’t been serious in about 5 years since we went from being an academic economist to the Left’s version of Anne Coulter. So unless you are going to start reading Coulter don’t hold your breath on me reading Krugman.

  8. […] Steve Verdon believes this to be good news for the economy. Quite the contrary, deflation is very bad news unless it’s mild and temporary. When the average price level goes down, employers are forced to cut wages or lay off workers. Debtors have a harder time paying off their loans when dollars are more expensive, and are more likely to walk away from their debts when the price of the collateral falls below the balance of the loan. Banks are also more likely to fail, as default increase and money to pay back depositors is harder to come by. […]

  9. It was ironic that the pundits on CNBC were flying “America’s Oil Crisis” banners two months ago.

    Fast forward to this morning and they were warning that we could be on the brink of catastrophic Asian style deflation because of one month negative CPI. What gives?

    Matt Drouin
    Associate Broker
    Nothnagle Realtors
    http://www.nyhomesgetsold.com

  10. Bad says:

    “Krugman hasn’t been serious in about 5 years since we went from being an academic economist to the Left’s version of Anne Coulter.”

    His political opinions and his economic arguments aren’t really the same thing. The economic arguments stand or fall on their own evidential/mathematical merits.

    And a comparison to Coulter is pretty silly. Someone like Al Franken or Michael Moore are a good comparisons to Coulter. Krugman is more akin to a leftist Krauthammer.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    His political opinions and his economic arguments aren’t really the same thing. The economic arguments stand or fall on their own evidential/mathematical merits.

    Oh please. He uses his column and his reputation to talk about the economy. Has for years. He clearly mixes the two. And his academic output has been rather…thin, lately.

    And a comparison to Coulter is pretty silly. Someone like Al Franken or Michael Moore are a good comparisons to Coulter. Krugman is more akin to a leftist Krauthammer.

    Some of Krugman’s more wild eyed pronouncements are pretty out there. And Krugman routinely tops the Lying in Ponds Partisan Index year after year. Granted he isn’t as crass as Coulter, but looking him for reasonable thoughts on an issue just isn’t reasonable.

  12. tom p says:

    I stopped reading Krugman years ago. Not because he didn’t have things worth saying, just that he sounded so… “shrill”, and it got tiresome.

    Still gasoline prices are over 12 percent higher than where they were last year.

    Steve, I remember specifically, about 5-7 yrs ago, filling up my 1972 vintage Chevy pickup at 1.88 per gallon and thinking, “This can’t last. I gotta sell this thing.” (It got 15 to the gallon, I did, and it didn’t last) Today, I saw gas at $1.60 + per gallon… In all those intervening years, I have not seen gas so cheap.

    WHAT price index are you looking at?

  13. tom p says:

    ps: this is Missouri, low gas tas capitol of the country… I just haven’t seen gas at $1.64/ gallon in at least 10 years.

  14. odograph says:

    Some of Krugman’s more wild eyed pronouncements are pretty out there. And Krugman routinely tops the Lying in Ponds Partisan Index year after year. Granted he isn’t as crass as Coulter, but looking him for reasonable thoughts on an issue just isn’t reasonable.

    It’s not just her crassness it’s her crass viciousness.

    Actually to equate someone who is if anything too sweet (and mommy-state) to Coulter is bizarre.

    For what it’s worth though, I cross-read Krugman with Mankiw … sometimes I think one is right and the other wrong … but Krugman is never lazy about building a rational case.

    He is not a crazed, crass, bomb-thrower, in the Coulter mold. Where is your head to even put that together?