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Friday, October 15, 2010

Threat of Consumer Disinflation Continues... Here Comes Ben

BusinessWeek details the (lack of) inflation:

The cost of living in the U.S. rose less than forecast in September, indicating limited consumer demand is making it difficult for companies to raise prices.

The consumer-price index rose 0.1 percent after 0.3 percent gains in the prior two months, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 0.2 percent gain, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Excluding volatile food and fuel costs, the so-called core rate was unchanged for a second month.
Outside of energy, which has much lower year over year increases (with the financial crisis induced collapse, which one year later appeared as a spike) rolling off, consumer inflation (with the exception perhaps of the recent run up in food prices) is nowhere to be found.



Which leads us to Bernanke's latest speech per Bloomberg:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said additional monetary stimulus may be warranted because inflation is too low and unemployment is too high.

“There would appear -- all else being equal -- to be a case for further action,” Bernanke said today in the text of remarks given at a Boston Fed conference. He said the central bank could expand asset purchases or change the language in its statement, while saying “nonconventional policies have costs and limitations that must be taken into account in judging whether and how aggressively they should be used.”

He didn’t offer new details on how the Fed would undertake those strategies or give assurances the central bank will act at its Nov. 2-3 meeting.

Bernanke and his central bank colleagues are considering ways they can stimulate the economy as the unemployment rate holds near 10 percent and inflation falls short of their goals. After lowering interest rates almost to zero and purchasing $1.7 trillion of securities, policy makers are discussing expanding the Fed’s balance sheet by purchasing Treasuries and strategies for raising inflation expectations, according to the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s Sept. 21 meeting.
Source: BLS