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A Summary of My Post-CPI Tweets

October 30, 2013 3 comments

Below is a summary of my post-CPI tweets. You can follow me @inflation_guy. And, given where all of this seems to be going…you ought to.

  • Core inflation only up 0.122%. But housing continues to accelerate! Apparel -0.5% this month.
  • Core dips slightly to 1.734% from 1.766% y/y. At odds with our forecast, due to the continued weakness in core goods.
  • Still think core ends 2013 over 2%, but depends on core commodities coming up some. Our housing forecast looks good.
  • Primary Rents stays at 3%, OER at 2.2%.
  • Medical Care 2.4% y/y from 2.3%. And that’s with “health insurance” falling to 2.5% from 2.9%. Obviously, that’s all pre-ACA.
  • Accel Major groups: Medical Care (7.2%). Decel: Apparel, Recreation, Educ/COmm (16.3%). Everything else sideways.
  • This really IS mostly about the apparel decline. Bad back-to-school adjustment probably.
  • I think given apparel, what we know will happen in medical care, and the housing stuff…next month may be over 0.3% on core.

This has all the signs of one of those numbers (and we’re seeing a lot of them this month) that should be averaged with next month’s number because of data collection quirks. Actually, we probably ought to average September, October, and November data together to get a “before, during, and after” average around the government shutdown. The apparel decline hit women’s apparel, men’s apparel, and girls’ apparel, but boys’ apparel inflation accelerated. Medical care prices re-accelerated slightly, as I think is destined to happen because the current run-rate is significantly due to the effect of the sequester on Medicare reimbursements, but we can already see that the “insurance” category is going to be accelerating markedly in the next few months because of the large number of cancellations and re-policying that is going on around the implementation of Obamacare. While direct consumer purchase of insurance and/or medical care is just a small part of overall inflation, a big jump will still be felt in the overall data.

The key conundrum continues to be the softness in core goods, but as I’ve argued previously the biggest part of the effect is from the very low readings from medicinal drugs and medical equipment – both of which accelerated this month. If the apparel reading really is a quirk, then core inflation is going to start heading higher with alacrity now. All of the “interesting” parts of it already are.

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