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Disinflation Trend: Lowest PCE Price Index In History

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    June 4, 2013

    Doug Short at Advisor Perspectives has a pair of interesting reports on price inflation as measured by the PCE and PCI.

    Please consider PCE Price Index Update: Sorry Fed, The Disinflationary Trend Continues

     The latest Headline PCE price index year-over-year (YoY) rate of 0.74% is a decrease from last month’s adjusted 1.01%. The Core PCE index of 1.05% is decrease from the previous month’s adjusted 1.17%. It is the lowest Core PCE ever recorded; the previous all-time low was 1.06% in March 1963, fifty years ago.

    The continuing disinflationary trend in core PCE (the blue line in the charts below) must be troubling to the Fed. After years of ZIRP and waves of QE, this closely watched indicator has been consistently moving in the wrong direction for over a year. It has contracted month-over-month for ten of the last 13 months since its interim high of 1.96% in March of 2012 and is now approaching half that YoY rate.

    The first chart shows the monthly year-over-year change in the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index since 2000. I’ve also included an overlay of the Core PCE (less Food and Energy) price index, which is Fed’s preferred indicator for gauging inflation. I’ve highlighted 2 to 2.5 percent range. Two percent had generally been understood to be the Fed’s target for core inflation. However, the December 12 FOMC meeting raised the inflation ceiling to 2.5% for the next year or two while their accommodative measures (low FFR and quantitative easing) are in place.

    click on chart for sharper image

    For a long-term perspective, here are the same two metrics spanning five decades.

    click on chart for sharper image

    Inquiring minds may also wish to consider Two Measures of Inflation: Core PCE at Its All-Time Low

    “Flation” Perspective

    Inflation, deflation, and disinflation are all in the eyes of the beholder, and all depend on the definition. Still I expect another round of deflation possibly with prices but more importantly with credit, my preferred measure of “flation”.

    Regardless of how one measures “flation”, the hyperinflationists missed the boat by a mile.
    Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/06/lowest-core-pce-in-history-flation.html#qUI2xY0qgPsZI6Cw.99

    Images: Flickr (licence attribution)

    About The Author

    Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.  Visit Sitka Pacific’s Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

    You are currently viewing my global economics blog which typically has commentary every day of the week. I am also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education.  Every Thursday I do a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis contribute to many other sites.

    When not writing about stocks or the economy I spend a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com.