"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything Is More Expensive, But CPI And Industrial Production Will Still Be Counted A "Win"

We've got two major market movers for today - Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Industrial Production. The first tells us the overall change in the cost of living for consumers (i.e. everyone) and the second tells us about the rate of change in, well, industrial production.

Last month[1], the CPI was up a moderate 0.2%[2] while industrial production showed us a whopping 0.00% change. Will things be better this month? Let's find out.

Analysts were expecting an additional month of 0.2% increase in CPI (with a 0.1% increase in the core), and 0.4% increase in industrial production (with a capacity utilization rate of 75.1%). The reality?

The reality for the Consumer Price Index is a 0.1% increase, with the same increase showing up even after excluding food and energy costs. Groceries (well, "food at home") saw a 0.2% increase, while eating out saw a 0.3% increase. Energy costs went up across the board, with a 0.7% increase in gasoline costs, and a 4.2% increase in fuel oil costs.

And Industrial Production? Up 0.4%, with capacity utilization at 75.2%. Most of the losses came from final products, specifically consumer goods final products (down 0.5%), while business equipment and nonindustrial supplies were the big winners (each category up 0.9%).

All in all, the market will see this as a minor win. Both measures beat expectations, after all. Just try not to think too hard about how things are 1.1% more expensive than November 2009.

[1] October. These are lagging indicators, after all.
[2] Or 0.00% if you look at "core" CPI. I won't rehash that argument today.

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