CPI increases for second month in a row

For the second month in a row, consumer price index inflation has accelerated, this time from 3.2% over the year ending in February to 3.5% over the year ending in March, blowing past economist expectations. Core CPI, which was expected to fall last month, instead held constant at 3.8%, nearly twice the Federal Reserve‘s maximum inflation target of 2%. On a month-by-month basis, both headline and core CPI increased by 0.4%, nearly twice what economists at Bank of America and UBS projected when surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the Fed’s success at bringing inflation down from its near-double-digit apex in the summer of 2022, the central bank, which has been opposed by the White House’s explicitly inflationary fiscal policy, has seen its war against inflation not just stall but backslide. While we still must wait for March’s wholesale inflation and personal consumption expenditures price index, PPI nearly doubled in February, and headline PCE increased for the first time since September. Of all the Fed’s main inflation gauges, only core PCE decreased in February, in large part due to the supply-driven cooldown of the automobile market.

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President Joe Biden, who languishes behind former President Donald Trump in virtually every swing state except Pennsylvania, should be panicking. Contrary to his claims that the war on inflation has been won, not only is price stability worsening, but also — specifically because Biden has continued to try and spend tens of billions of dollars in debt to buy the votes of college graduates with his inane student loan bailouts — the Fed will have to maintain an even more restrictive monetary policy than it had wanted to.

At the beginning of the year, investors predicted the Fed would cut the federal funds rate from its decade-and-a-half high at least six or seven times. It took until last month for them to fall in line with the Fed’s December warning that it only saw three rate cuts likely throughout 2024. With inflation rebounding once more, Biden might get his worst-case scenario: not a single rate cut before Election Day.

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