The Federal Reserve’s Strategic War on Inflation: An In-Depth Look at May's CPI Report and Its Implications -

The Federal Reserve’s Strategic War on Inflation: An In-Depth Look at May’s CPI Report and Its Implications

June 13, 2023

The Federal Reserve is unwavering in its commitment to tame inflation. The release of May’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM today will provide the central bank with a fresh perspective on their progress in this challenging mission. The trend suggested by year-on-year rates seems promising, with a consistent reduction in the CPI numbers since they peaked at a daunting 9.1% in June 2022. This crucial report coincides with the start of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) two-day monetary policy meeting, with an anticipated rate decision and dot plot announcement expected on Wednesday.

Cracking the Numbers: CPI Expectations and Implications

According to projections, the headline CPI for May is set to register a more modest growth rate, slowing to a 0.2% month-on-month (M/M) increase from the 0.4% advancement observed in April. The picture becomes even more encouraging when examined from a year-on-year (Y/Y) perspective. It is predicted that CPI growth will continue to decelerate, sliding to 4.1% from 4.9% in April, which signifies the lowest level in over two years. When you exclude food and energy, the core CPI is anticipated to register a rise of 0.4% M/M, unchanged from the previous month, highlighting the stubbornness of inflation. The year-on-year basis predicts the core CPI to ascend by 5.3%, a slight decrease from 5.5% in April.

The Fed’s Perspective: Personal Consumption Expenditures

It’s worth noting that Federal Reserve officials tend to focus more on personal consumption expenditures (PCE), as it reflects consumers’ adaptability to price increments. For instance, faced with higher prices, consumers may shift to more economical store-brand products from premium name brands. Unlike the CPI, which gauges the price of a fixed set of goods and services, the PCE evaluates the actual spending habits of consumers. However, the PCE report for May isn’t expected until June 30, meaning the Fed will not have this valuable data to inform their current view of the U.S. economy.

In the Analyst’s Lens: Key Insights on the Inflation Scenario

According to Mark Grant, a seasoned analyst at Seeking Alpha (SA), the central bank also considers other factors, colloquially referred to as “data”. Keep your eyes peeled for the release of the Producer Price Index, he advises. “Regardless of the specific figure, it could have a meaningful influence on the Fed’s pronouncement, especially if the CPI report presents challenges,” he adds. Another SA analyst, Damir Tokic, suggests that the disinflationary process has begun in services and shelters. However, he also warns of a potentially rough journey ahead in achieving the Fed’s target of 2% inflation.

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