Interest Rate Roundup

Friday, March 14, 2008

No inflation in February?

The Consumer Price Index for February was a surprise, to say the least. According to the gubmint trackers ...

* The overall CPI was unchanged in February, vs. a gain of 0.4% in the prior month and expectations for a rise of 0.3%. CPI is still up 4% from a year ago, though that's down from 4.3% in January.

* The core CPI (which strips out food and energy) was also unchanged, vs. +0.3% in January and expectations for a gain of 0.2%. Core CPI is up 2.3% from a year ago, down from January's 2.5% rise.

* Now here's where it gets interesting: Apparel prices fell 0.3%, transportation prices fell 0.7%, commodities prices fell 0.2%, and personal computer prices dropped 0.5%. Oh and in case you were wondering, gasoline prices fell 2%.

I don't know about you, but I think this looks more like a timing issue than anything. In other words, the data collectors weren't in the field at the right time to capture the big run-ups we have seen since in gas, oil, and other commodities. On the other hand, the declines in the prices of consumer goods (apparel, computers, and so on) are probably a side effect of reduced demand stemming from the economic slump.


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