All Eyes Are On Thursday’s Inflation Data Dump After Aggressive Federal Reserve Moves

All Eyes Are On Thursday’s Inflation Data Dump After Aggressive Federal Reserve Moves

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to release Consumer Price Index data Thursday morning that will indicate whether rate hikes from the Federal Reserve have had a meaningful impact on inflation.

As of two months ago, prices had been rising year-over-year at an 8.2% rate, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Core inflation, which factors out food and energy, rose 6.6% during the same period, reaching the highest pace in more than four decades.

Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride called the most recent data “disastrous” in remarks provided to The Daily Wire. “It isn’t just the ongoing pace of increase that is troublesome but the pervasiveness of surging prices across various spending categories that has scarred household budgets,” he said. “Food and shelter continue to exert outsized pressure on the inflation rate and consumers’ pocketbooks. Energy has been a mixed bag, with gasoline prices having declined in recent months but electricity and natural gas still rising at a whopping pace. As weather turns cold, the cost of heating homes will further strain household budgets.”

Indeed, the average household primarily using natural gas for space heating will spend $931 on power from October to March, marking a $206 increase since last year, according to the most recent winter fuels outlook from the Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, expected growth between 6% and 8% in holiday season retail sales are expected to be entirely eclipsed by rising price levels, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

The Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate by 0.75% this month for the fourth consecutive time. McBride noted that “any broad-based, significant, and sustained easing of inflation pressures remains elusive” despite the moves, noting that Federal Chair Jerome Powell has said there is “a ways to go” in rolling out the contractionary monetary regime.

President Joe Biden responded to the most recent inflation data by claiming that his legislative agenda has helped reduce cost pressures. “Today’s report shows some progress in the fight against higher prices, even as we have more work to do,” he said in a statement. “But even with this progress, prices are still too high. Fighting the global inflation that is affecting countries around the world and working families here at home is my top priority.”

The midterm elections were expected by many pundits to be a referendum on the Biden administration’s economic performance, although Republicans lost a number of high-profile statewide races in what many conservative commentators attributed to poor candidate quality. The economy and inflation were key issues among voters preparing to cast ballots, with 84% considering the former to be a top factor on their minds, according to a poll from ABC News and The Washington Post.

Households have been spending beyond their means amid elevated price pressures. The total level of consumer loans increased from $1.5 trillion at the beginning of the Biden administration to $1.8 trillion as of two months ago, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, the personal savings rate has dropped from 20% to slightly more than 3% over the same period, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, marking a significant decline from typical rates witnessed before the lockdown-induced recession.

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