Inflation is on the rise in the United States, but if price pressures were to persist, contrary to the Federal Reserve’s expectations, the data would paint a different picture, an economist said on Friday.
In a note to clients, Daniel Vernazza, Chief International Economist at UniCredit Bank, pointed out the complicated but interesting graph below:
This shows that most items retreated and advanced along the horizontal axis, implying that prices showed little sensitivity to changes in demand, Vernazza explained. And for the service sectors particularly affected by the pandemic, including airline tickets and accommodation, the reopening of the economy has only led to a partial recovery in prices, which have still not returned to the levels. before the pandemic.
It’s a somewhat different story for car rental, where severe supply shortages have driven prices up, while spending in the sector remains well below pre-pandemic levels due to the limited supply, he said. For used cars, the combination of a shift away from public transport by commuters and a global shortage of semiconductors for new cars has pushed up both demand and prices.
What’s important to note, Vernazza said, is that since the rise in inflation is largely due to the reopening of the economy and supply shortages, it is will likely prove temporary as the direct effects of the pandemic wear off and supply adjusts to meet demand.
But what would a more lasting inflationary threat look like?
In this case, most of the items would occupy the upper right quadrant of the graph, reflecting what economists call “demand-driven inflation,” Vernazza said. To date, “this is clearly not the case,” wrote the economist.
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As inflation jitters rocked financial markets just last month, investor worries appear to be fading. T-bills rallied on Thursday, despite another higher-than-expected consumer price index reading, sending the yield on the 10-year T-bill TMUBMUSD10Y,
less than 1.45%.
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Higher inflation is generally seen as bad news for bonds, eroding the value of interest payments made to holders. Stocks rallied on Thursday, with the S&P 500 SPX,
closing a record high on Thursday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
remains close to its all-time high and the rally in technology stocks, more sensitive to interest rates, pushed the Nasdaq Composite COMP,
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The Federal Reserve is holding a political meeting next week. While Fed officials largely stuck to their view that inflationary pressures will prove to be “transient,” several also said it was time to start thinking about when it would be appropriate to discuss the issue. withdrawal of asset purchases at the center of its extraordinary monetary policy efforts to support the economy and clean up the labor market.
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And some economists warn that signs of inflationary pressures in more cyclical segments of the economy are starting to appear.
“Rent and homeowners’ rent equivalents have rebounded sharply in recent months, and out-of-home restaurant prices have jumped 0.6%,” said Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics, in a note. “It’s no coincidence that restaurant rents and prices rise faster when wage growth also accelerates. “
Pearce said a continued increase in job vacancies shows worker shortages “are real and are escalating.”
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“The recent strength in inflation and signs of labor shortages could prompt a handful of regional hawk Fed Presidents to advance their rate hike projections and step up calls to cut government purchases.” active as early as possible at the FOMC meeting next week, ”he wrote. “But we suspect the majority of the committee will stick to” largely transient “language and instead focus on the yawning shortage of jobs from pre-pandemic levels. “