Consumer prices jumped last month, a problem for Washington and Wall Street.

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The growls show no obvious signs of abating, and while Fed officials still believe inflation will subside, there is growing concern that supply disruptions may last long enough to spur consumers and businesses to expect higher prices. If people think their lifestyle will cost more, they may demand higher pay – and as employers raise wages, they may charge more for their goods to cover the costs, setting off an upward spiral.

Wages are already increasing, although generally too little to fully offset the amount of inflation that has occurred this year. There are notable exceptions to this, including in leisure and hospitality jobs, where wages have accelerated faster than prices.

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The Fed targets inflation of 2% on average over time, which it defines using a different but related index, the measure of personal consumption expenditure. This gauge is released more late and has also jumped this year.

Central bankers have said they are prepared to look beyond the surge in prices because the gains are expected to turn out to be transient, and they expect the long-term trends that have kept inflation at bay. a low level for years dominates over time. But they acknowledged that the rapid price gains lasted longer than expected and expressed their suspicion.

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“I believe, like most of my colleagues, that the risks to inflation are on the rise, and I continue to be alert and attentive to the underlying trends in inflation,” said Richard H. Clarida, vice president of the central bank, in a speech. Tuesday.

Fed officials are already planning to cut their $ 120 billion in monthly asset purchases soon, a process often referred to as phase-down and the first step away from crisis politics. The Fed’s more traditional tool, the fed funds rate, stays close to zero and is expected to stay that way for some time.

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The fact that the Fed is about to start scaling back could mean it will be more nimble if it has to raise rates to control inflation next year.

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