If you’re looking for a gauge on U.S. inflation, you’ve got two primary options. There’s CPI – the consumer price index. And there’s PCE – personal consumption expenditures. Both CPI and PCE serve as broad measures of inflation (i.e. how much prices are going up on consumer goods and services). That’s useful information if you’re trying to predict economic activity, because rapid and unexpected inflation can be bad for economic growth. So, what would you say if I told you that while CPI and PCE generally track in the same direction, there is a difference between the two estimates? And what if I told you that in March 2013, that difference hit its highest level since the start of the 2008-2009 recession? In March, core CPI showed 1.9% year-over-year growth, while core PCE showed a 1.1% increase over the same period. Sure, it’s only a difference of 0.8%, but 0.8% could mean the difference between extending quantitative easing and wrapping it up. 0.8% could mean the difference between projected growth and a return to recession. Read more
Posts tagged ‘inflation’
Many investors may not understand the Consumer Price Index (CPI). But it almost certainly affects them personally. Consider retirees living on a fixed income or employees factoring an inflation rate into their retirement plans. And, of course, we all feel the impact of rising costs at the pump, at the grocery store, and just about everywhere else. Read more
On 15th February, the price of gold hit a six-month low of $1,608 per troy ounce, calling into question the precious metal’s credential as an all-weather asset class.
Contrary to widespread perception, gold has not been inflation proof. But it has been a good hedge in periods of market turmoil, when investors have been forced to flee to safe-haven assets.
As recently as last December, many institutional investors, as well as high net worth individuals, had gold allocations as high as 15% percent – 20% in India. Even after the recent rally in the equity markets, many wealth advisors still continue to favour ‘return of capital’ over ‘return on capital.’ Their rationale has more to do with the worries about the other asset classes and less to do with gold’s intrinsic merit. For gold to succeed, evidently, it is enough for other asset classes to fail. Gold does not have to succeed in its own right. Read more
The President of Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago came to speak at the CFA Society of Iowa Strategy Dinner last night and I was lucky enough to attend. Although, we did not learn anything really new from the speech, Evans nicely summarized the Fed’s motivation for implementing the unemployment and inflation thresholds that are his namesake along with the reiterating that the Fed will not remove accommodation, whether it be QE or the near zero federal funds rate too quickly. His view on the economic growth was pretty optimistic. Evans stated,
I am optimistic that we have appropriate policies in place to help the economy achieve escape velocity by 2014. So, after rising a disappointing 1-1/2 percent in 2012, real gross domestic product (GDP) should increase in the range of 2-1/2 to 3 percent this year and then grow between 3-1/2 and 4 percent in 2014, according to my forecast. This growth ought to be sufficient to bring the unemployment rate close or maybe even a little below 7 percent by the end of next year.” Read more
Today, the Federal Reserve announced that it will keep its foot on the easy-money pedal until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5% or inflation looks to go above 2.5%. The proposal has been getting some press as of late (you can see my recent post after Fed Vice Chair Yellen brought up the idea in November). This is almost exactly what Chicago Fed president Charles Evans proposed back in 2011. Well, Evans has evidently convinced everyone else at the Fed. Read more