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May 3rd, 2011 10:33 am
More on Inflation

When I wrote last week on the coming stagflation, I didn’t know that by formerly used official US inflation measures, current inflation is running at 10%. Niall Ferguson says it is. His terrific column is here.

This Ferguson paragraph mirrors one of mine from last week:

To ordinary Americans, however, it’s not the online price of an iPad that matters; it’s prices of food on the shelf and gasoline at the pump. These, after all, are the costs they encounter most frequently. And with average gas prices hitting $3.88 a gallon last week, filling up is now twice as painful as when President Obama took office.

(From my column last week: “The Fed economists may discount food and gasoline prices as unstable indicators that aren’t part of “core” inflation, but for most Americans food and gas cost hikes are the very definition of inflation. These are the things they pay for every day; they are the items closest to their psyches. Those gas prices on the big billboards at every filling station have an outsized effect on American psychology.”)

Here’s the Ferguson bit about how the inflation measure has changed:

And the reason the CPI is losing credibility is that, as economist John Williams tirelessly points out, it’s a bogus index. The way inflation is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been “improved” 24 times since 1978. If the old methods were still used, the CPI would actually be 10 percent. Yes, folks, double-digit inflation is back. Pretty soon you’ll be able to figure out the real inflation rate just by moving the decimal point in the core CPI one place to the right.

Good stuff. Read the whole thing.

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