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CPI And Core CPI. A Half-Year Report

We have been routinely reporting on the difference between the headline and core consumer price indices (NYSEARCA:CPI) since 2008. Figure 1 illustrates our general finding that this difference can be well approximated by a set of linear trends. The last trend likely finished in 2009. That's why we expected a new trend to evolve since 2010 into the late 2010s.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported the estimates of various consumer price indices for August 2012. Figure 2 shows the predicted trend and the actual difference since 2010. The difference was fluctuating around zero between June 2011 and January 2012 and then showed a turn to the predicted trend. Essentially, the zero difference suggests that the core and headline CPI are practically equal and evolve at the same monthly rate, i.e. the joint price index of energy and food has been following the price index of all other good and services (the core CPI) one-to-one.

Currently, the price index of energy slowly falls together with oil price. We expect them to fall deeper and thus the headline CPI to decelerate a bit together with energy. If the core CPI will retain its current cohesion with the headline CPI, we will have a period of very low inflation in all goods and services less energy and food.

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Figure 1. Two trends in the difference between the headline and core CPI.

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Figure 2. The evolution of the difference between the core and headline CPI since 2002.

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