This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 16 September 2022

By: Taro Chellaram /Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report/Sep 20, 2022

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 16 September 2022

Financial markets reacted in a zig-zag pattern to this week's economic data ahead of the next FOMC meeting. Price pressure is still not showing the sustained slowdown the Fed needs before it takes its foot off the throttle of tighter policy. At the same time, consumer goods spending and manufacturing activity are slowing, but not yet to a worrying degree consistent with contraction, and not enough to aid in bringing inflation lower. This week's data have thus further confirmed our view that the FOMC will press ahead with another 75 bp rate hike at its meeting next week. For more detail on our expectations for its meeting, please see our Domestic Outlook and Interest Rate Watch sections.

Wednesday's release of the August Consumer Price Index received the most market attention, in part because it came in hotter than the consensus estimate but also because the underlying details were a bit disappointing. Consumer prices rose 0.1% last month, while the consensus Bloomberg estimate had been looking for an equivalent 0.1% decline. This price gain still helped lower the year-over-year rate of price growth to 8.3%, which is a welcome but insufficient step in relieving excruciatingly high inflation for Americans.

The 0.6% gain in core inflation (excluding food and energy), which was more than double the consensus expectation, demonstrates that price pressure remains widespread across the economy. Core goods inflation specifically remained strong (+0.5%) despite indications that supply chains are functioning more smoothly, inventory stockpiles are building and goods spending is gradually slowing. Goods prices thus did not provide the needed offset to higher core services inflation, which saw a 0.6% rise due in part to stronger shelter inflation. Over the past three months, the core CPI has advanced at a 6.5% annualized pace, more than triple the Fed's 2% target (chart). A sustained return to 2% inflation remains even more distant at present, and the price data suggest more has to be done to rein in this stubbornly high level of inflation.

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