The divergence of official inflation as measured by the government versus inflation realized by the consumer and businesses has never been greater, in our opinion. Go ask anybody on the street in America and Europe if think “doing life or business” is getting more expensive.
We have some thoughts on what is the matter with the inflation data:
- Defining inflation – what is your definition of inflation? What are we trying to measure? The prices in a consumer basket of goods and services? Wages? Asset prices?
- Measurement problems – the official measurement procedures seem archaic given the advent of big data in the past few years. Even Bloomberg is out with a recent piece warning the Fed about low-balling inflation due to measurement errors.
Low-Balling Inflation Puts the Fed at Risk
Beware of any metric that doesn’t fully reflect housing prices.
The U.S. has an inflation problem. It has nothing to do with inflation being too high or too low. Unlike the raging inflation of the 1970s, it doesn’t need to be solved with a lengthy and painful recession. Instead, it is a problem of measurement because the cost of housing — the single biggest expense for many Americans — isn’t explicitly included in the inflation data.
…Recent research from the Bank for International Settlements finds that the transmission mechanism for monetary policy has shifted. In their paper “Monetary Policy Transmission and Trade-Offs in the United States: Old and New,” Boris Hofmann and Gert Peersman concluded that changes in monetary policy — rate hikes or rate cuts — are being filtered into the economy increasingly through housing prices and less so via businesses raising prices as in years past. So even though the Federal Reserve’s policies are causing those prices to rise, they aren’t registering in the form of higher overall inflation.
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