“Disinflation, Here We Come”

From Evan Soltas: Disinflation, Here We Come

Spot prices for oil have dropped 20 percent in the last three months, from $110 to $90 a barrel. If they remain at these levels, inflation in the United States will slow quite a bit, and quickly at that. My estimate is that headline PCE inflation will fall to just under 1 percent within the next three months of data.

Recall that PCE inflation is 1.5 percent year-over-year. So, one surprise from energy markets, and we could be below one percent. At a time when we are supposed to be a couple months away from a rate hike, this could complicate the exit plan.

This is why it is important to look at core measures of inflation (core CPI and PCE that remove energy), and other measures of underlying inflation such as the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI and trimmed-mean CPI.

And from Tim Duy: The Methodical Fed

Just a few months ago the specter of inflation dominated Wall Street. Now the tables have turned and low inflation is again the worry du jour as a deflationary wave propagates from the rest of the world – think Europe, China, oil prices. How quickly sentiment changes.

And given how quickly sentiment changes, I am loath to make any predictions on the implications for Fed policy. …

Bottom Line: Fed policy might sound dovish this week, but take note the the underlying tone has been methodically hawkish for a long, long time. And markets have responded accordingly, including anticipating a return to the zero bound when the next recession hits. Nor should this be unexpected. Monetary policymakers have yet to set clear objectives that includes a high probability that the zero bound is left behind for good.

One think is clear, Fed Chair Janet was correct in June when she said

“I think recent readings on CPI index have been a bit on the high side but I think the data we’re seeing is noisy. Broadly speaking inflation is evolving in line with the committee’s expectations.”

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