Filed Under: Business

Inflation hits new 40-year high at 7.9%. Russia’s war could make it worse.

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Russia’s threat of war helped fuel February’s inflation numbers, hitting a new 40-year high of 7.9%. The price spike doesn’t include the surge in gas prices and wheat seen in March since the start of the war, which has economists worried the worst could be yet to come.

Energy, food and shelter are the largest drivers behind the latest consumer price index numbers, with total energy prices up 25.6% compared with one year ago. Gas prices are up 38%.

Overall food matches the total index at 7.9%, eating away at any wage gains Americans have seen the past year. The cost of shelter is up 4.7% year over year, though other indicators point to it being much higher than what the CPI suggests.

Used cars went down 0.2% over the past month but are still up 41.2% on the year. Electricity was also down 1.1% from January to February but up 9% from a year ago.

Minus food and energy, inflation is still at 6.4% compared with one year ago, far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate. The Fed is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate in March in an effort to tighten monetary policy and cool inflation.

Economists had hoped the country was close to peaking on these repeated 4-decade high inflation numbers, with supply chain issues starting to smooth out and changing Fed policies. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought all of that into question, putting enormous pressure on the price of oil and wheat, along with metals like nickel and gold.

SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: RUSSIA’S THREAT OF WAR HELPED FUEL FEBRUARY’S INFLATION NUMBERS – HITTING A NEW 4-DECADE HIGH OF 7.9%.

THOSE PRICES DON’T INCLUDE THE SPIKES WE’VE BEEN SEEING THE PAST WEEK OR SO – SO MARCH HOLD ON TIGHT.

ENERGY, FOOD AND SHELTER ARE THE LARGEST DRIVERS BEHIND THE PRICE HIKES.

WITH TOTAL ENERGY PRICES UP 25.6% COMPARED WITH A YEAR AGO. GAS PRICES, UP 38%.

FOOD MATCHES THE TOTAL CONSUMER PRICE INDEX AT 7.9%. 

BUT IF YOU TAKE FOOD AND ENERGY OUT OF THE MIX, WE’RE LOOKING AT AN INFLATION RATE OF 6.4 – WHICH IS STILL WAY HIGHER THAN THE FED’S 2% TARGET. 

LOOK – ECONOMISTS HAD PREVIOUSLY HOPED WE WERE CLOSE TO PEAKING ON THESE 40-YEAR-HIGH INFLATION NUMBERS SINCE SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES WERE STARTING TO SMOOTH OUT AND THE FED IS TIGHTENING MONETARY POLICY.

BUT RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE HAS PUT ALL OF THAT INTO QUESTION, PUTTING ENORMOUS PRESSURE ON PRICES OF OIL AND WHEAT, ALONG WITH METALS LIKE NICKEL AND GOLD.

I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO. FROM NEW YORK, IT’S JUST BUSINESS.

Russia’s threat of war helped fuel February’s inflation numbers, hitting a new 40-year high of 7.9%. The price spike doesn’t include the surge in gas prices and wheat seen in March since the start of the war, which has economists worried the worst could be yet to come.

Energy, food and shelter are the largest drivers behind the latest consumer price index numbers, with total energy prices up 25.6% compared with one year ago. Gas prices are up 38%.

Overall food matches the total index at 7.9%, eating away at any wage gains Americans have seen the past year. The cost of shelter is up 4.7% year over year, though other indicators point to it being much higher than what the CPI suggests.

Used cars went down 0.2% over the past month but are still up 41.2% on the year. Electricity was also down 1.1% from January to February but up 9% from a year ago.

Minus food and energy, inflation is still at 6.4% compared with one year ago, far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate. The Fed is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate in March in an effort to tighten monetary policy and cool inflation.

Economists had hoped the country was close to peaking on these repeated 4-decade high inflation numbers, with supply chain issues starting to smooth out and changing Fed policies. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought all of that into question, putting enormous pressure on the price of oil and wheat, along with metals like nickel and gold.

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