Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Age of Inflation

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today:

The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods advanced 1.2 percent in July, seasonally adjusted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This increase followed a 1.8-percent jump in June and a 1.4-percent rise in May. At the earlier stages of processing, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate goods moved up 2.7 percent in July compared with a 2.1-percent gain in the prior month, and the index for crude materials for further processing climbed 4.2 percent subsequent to a 3.7-percent increase in June.

These producer price numbers equate to an inflation of 1.2% for July and 9.8% for the year. The July consumer price numbers, reported last week, were .8% and 5.6%.

The image above portrays the history of the PPI in the twentieth century. As you can see, producer price gains were neglible (except during WWII) until the early 1970s, at which time prices became significantly more volatile and upward-trending. And the present moment appears here as the most inflationary of all.*

*As measured by 'change from previous year' instead of 'percent change from previous year'

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