Friday, April 13, 2018

Hints of Inflation

At their meeting last month, Federal Reserve policy makers said they’re increasingly confident inflation will rise to their 2 percent target. That's according to the minutes from the March 20-21 meeting that came out this week, which highlight just how much Fed officials’ outlook has changed since last fall, when surprisingly slow inflation raised questions about the need for continued rate increases.

In some senses, we're already there. During the first quarter of this year, consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 2.5 percent, while core prices (which exclude volatile food and energy) climbed at a rate of 2.9 percent.

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditure price index, tends to run a little cooler than CPI; it was at 1.8 percent at its least reading in February. But the trend is clear: Underlying inflation is picking up.

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