AIER’s Everyday Price Index rises 0.67% in February 2023

Following a 0.93 percent rise in January 2023, the Everyday Price Index (EPI) rose 0.67 percent in February 2023. At 282.6 (1987 = 100), AIER’s EPI is at its highest level since July 2022 (285.4). Among the EPI constituents, the largest month-to-month increases were seen in cable, satellite TV and radio services, prescription drugs, and tobacco and smoking products. The largest declines came in fees for recreational lessons and instructions, domestic services, and household fuels and utilities.

 AIER Everyday Price Index vs. US Consumer Price Index (NSA, 1987 = 100)

(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP)

The US Consumer Price Index (CPI), released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30am EDT this morning, reported a month-over-month headline increase of 0.4 percent, which met expectations. Core CPI (month-over-month) came in one tenth of a percent higher than expectations at 0.5 percent. Both year-over-year headline CPI and year-over-year core CPI met expectations of 6.0 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. AIER’s EPI is up 6.6 percent over that same time period (February 2022 through February 2023).

 February 2023 US CPI headline & core, month-over-month (2013 – present)

(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP)

Among the components contributing to the rise in the core CPI index, the most prominent were shelter, recreation, household furnishings, and airfare. Providing some relief in February was the smallest decline in groceries since May 2021. Egg prices, which have become emblematic of price spikes, saw a decline of 6.7% in February 2023. Used-car prices declined 13.6 percent on a year-over-year basis, the largest decline in that CPI component since 1960. 

Costs associated with shelter rose 0.8 percent in February, adding to an 0.7 percent rise in January. Rent and owner’s equivalent rent increased by over 8 percent year-over-year, a record increase. Shelter numbers can be misleading, though, as they are reported with a lag. Recent data suggest that within the shelter category, costs are beginning to decline. 

February 2023 US CPI headline & core, year-over-year (2013 – present)

(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP)

As was the case in January 2023, AIER’s EPI shows a larger month-over-month increase in household costs than either the headline or core CPI readings indicate. 

The path of Fed policy is undoubtedly cloudier than it was even a few days ago owing to financial stability concerns. As recently as last week, a 50 basis point hike to the Fed Funds rate target was viewed as a distinct possibility at the 21-22 March FOMC meeting. The weekend collapse of both Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank of New York, however, have vastly increased the likelihood of a 25 basis point hike or a pause in the Fed’s ongoing contractionary policy measures. Two weeks ago, on March 1st 2023, market implied policy rates (MIPR) saw terminal rates at 5.52 percent within six months. After this morning’s CPI release and in light of concerns over the health of the US banking system, that estimate had dropped to 4.81 percent, suggesting expectations for a single quarter point rate hike between now and September 2023. The path to restoring the 2 percent annual inflation target has likely become longer in light of recent events.

Peter C. Earle

Peter C. Earle

Peter C. Earle is an economist who joined AIER in 2018. Prior to that he spent over 20 years as a trader and analyst at a number of securities firms and hedge funds in the New York metropolitan area. His research focuses on financial markets, monetary policy, and problems in economic measurement. He has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, NPR, and in numerous other media outlets and publications. Pete holds an MA in Applied Economics from American University, an MBA (Finance), and a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Selected Publications

“General Institutional Considerations of Blockchain and Emerging Applications” Co-Authored with David M. Waugh in The Emerald Handbook on Cryptoassets: Investment Opportunities and Challenges, edited by Baker, Benedetti, Nikbakht, and Smith (2023)

“Operation Warp Speed” Co-authored with Edwar Escalante in Pandemics and Liberty, edited by Raymond J. March and Ryan M. Yonk (2022)

“A Virtual Weimar: Hyperinflation in Diablo III” in The Invisible Hand in Virtual Worlds: The Economic Order of Video Games, edited by Matthew McCaffrey (2021)

“The Fickle Science of Lockdowns” Co-authored with Phillip W. Magness, Wall Street Journal (December 2021)

“How Does a Well-Functioning Gold Standard Function?” Co-authored with William J. Luther, SSRN (November 2021)

“Populist Prophets, Public Prophets: Pied Pipers of Lucre, Then and Now” in Financial History (Summer 2021)

“Boston’s Forgotten Lockdowns” in The American Conservative (November 2020)

“Private Governance and Rules for a Flat World” in Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership (June 2019)

“’Federal Jobs Guarantee’ Idea Is Costly, Misguided, And Increasingly Popular With Democrats” in Investor’s Business Daily (December 2018)

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