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Question #5 for 2017: Will the core inflation rate rise in 2017? Will too much inflation be a concern in 2017?


Late last year I posted some questions for 2017: Ten Economic Questions for 2017. I’ll try to add some thoughts, and maybe some predictions for each question.

5) Inflation: The inflation rate has increased a little recently, and some key measures are now close to the the Fed’s 2% target. Will core inflation rate rise in 2017? Will too much inflation be a concern in 2017?

Although there are different measure for inflation (including some private measures) they all show that inflation is now close to the Fed’s 2% inflation target – except Core PCE.

Note:  I follow several measures of inflation, median CPI and trimmed-mean CPI from the Cleveland Fed.  Core PCE prices (monthly from the BEA) and core CPI (from the BLS).

Inflation Measures Click on graph for larger image.

On a year-over-year basis in November, the median CPI rose 2.5%, the trimmed-mean CPI rose 2.1%, and the CPI less food and energy rose 2.1%. Core PCE is for October and increased 1.7% year-over-year.

On a monthly basis, median CPI was at 2.2% annualized, trimmed-mean CPI was at 1.9% annualized, and core CPI was at 1.8% annualized.

These measures have been trending up slowly.

The Fed is projecting core PCE inflation will increase to 1.8% to 1.9% by Q4 2017.  However there are risks for higher inflation.  The labor market is approaching full employment, and the new administration is proposing some fiscal stimulus (tax cuts, possible infrastructure spending), so it is possible – as a result – that inflation will increase more than expected in 2017 and 2018.

Currently I think PCE core inflation (year-over-year) will increase further and be close to 2% in 2017, but too much inflation will still not be a serious concern in 2017.

Here are the Ten Economic Questions for 2017 and a few predictions:

• Question #6 for 2017: Will the Fed raise rates in 2017, and if so, by how much?
• Question #7 for 2017: How much will wages increase in 2017?
• Question #8 for 2017: How much will Residential Investment increase?
• Question #9 for 2017: What will happen with house prices in 2017?
• Question #10 for 2017: Will housing inventory increase or decrease in 2017?
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