According to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for the month of June, prices increased on both a monthly and annual basis, by 1.3% and 9.1%, respectively. As seen in previous months, year-to-year inflation set another 40+-year high in June, going all the way back to 1981.
The record inflation continues to be fueled by a spike in gas costs, more expensive food and rent, and pricier cars and hotel rooms. So-called “core” CPI, which strips away volatile food and energy prices, actually went down year-on-year from May to June, from 6% to 5.9% respectively.
Even gas prices have fallen since they touched a national average of $5 per gallon last month, down to $4.63 per gallon as of Wednesday. The drop points to the potential for sharply lower inflation in July.
While the core CPI and falling gas prices may be a sign of cooling inflation, the June CPI report as a whole may pave the way for the Federal Reserve to take more aggressive action at its next meeting later this month. The market expects the central bank to raise the key Fed funds target rate by 75 basis points. That would be the Fed’s third consecutive rate hike, totaling 2% in hikes.
“I don’t like to prejudge a meeting, but if the, if the meeting was today, I would support the 75 basis point move,” St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said Tuesday.
While Bullard believes “we should be able to return inflation to 2% without too much disruption in the economy,” others aren’t convinced. Dan Wantrobski, the associate director for research at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, predicted a recession “to most likely touch down sometime in 2023” on Tuesday.
“We actually think it’s going to be much more benign in scope,” Wantrobski said. “Labor markets are going to remain tight and it’s actually going to be more of a consumer-led recession based on all the headline price inflation we’re currently seeing and that the Fed is trying to fight.”