Why Today is Different From the Inflationary 1970s
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Soaring gasoline prices helped drive up overall U.S. consumer prices during May by the fastest rate in six months, but core prices remained tame, a government report today showed. But 12-month core prices advanced 2.3% as expected (see chart above).
MP: Note that core CPI inflation (less food and energy, data here) has been below 3% now for 149 consecutive months, since January of 1996 (shaded area above). Also notice that there is a huge difference between the inflationary 1970s and today - in the inflationary 1970s (fueled by excessive money creation) ALL prices were rising simultaneously at double-digits rates, EVEN the non-energy and non-food items of the CPI. Today, except for energy and food prices, core inflation is contained, low and stable, as is growth in the monetary base, suggesting that the concern about inflation is well... inflated.
Also, compared to a recent peak close to 3% during 2006, the core inflation rate is lower today, and has been generally declining since late 2007.
Rising energy prices alone cannot cause inflationary increases in all goods and services, as the situation today suggests, with core inflation remaining low and stable despite rising energy prices. Keep in mind also that during the double-digit inflation in the U.S. during the 1970s, fueled by expansionary monetary policy, the German central bank demonstrated much greater monetary restraint, and inflation in Germany never exceeded 8% in any year during the 1970s and averaged only 5% during that decade (despite experiencing the same increase in world oil prices as the U.S.).