The chart above shows the annual growth rates in: a) consumer prices (CPI), b) average hourly earnings, and c) the FHFA home price index from 1976 to 2010. The double-digit CPI inflation of the late 1970s (see brown line in chart) was accompanied by: a) double-digit increases in home prices for 11 straight quarters from 1977 to 1979 (red line), and b) 69 consecutive months with year-over-year wage increases of 7% or higher (blue line).
Currently, we've had 22 consecutive months of year-over-year wage increases below 3%, and b) 13 consecutive quarters of negative year-over-year home price increases starting in late 2007. Given the past historical patterns of inflation being accompanied by rising wages and home prices, it seems like the proponents of pending inflation have to explain how inflationary pressures can be building in the economy with: a) falling home prices and b) wage increases of 2% that are less than half the 4.5% average since 1965? It would be historically unprecedented to start experiencing rising inflation in 2011 with falling home prices and stagnant wages, and unless and until we start seeing rising home prices and wages we might not see higher inflation this year.
: In the 1970s, when we experienced high and rising inflation, there were widespread inflationary pressures throughout the economy: prices for housing, food, energy, etc. and wages were all rising. Today, we have a mix of: a) inflationary pressures (most food items, oil/gas), b) deflationary pressures (natural gas (-6% over the last year), housing, electronics, some food products like eggs (-9% over the last year), boneless chicken breast (-4%), clothing, etc.), and c) no inflationary wage pressures. We'll know that we're entering a new period of high inflation when we start to see widespread inflationary pressures throughout the economy. People talk about food inflation, and yet McDonald's still has the same Dollar Menu
prices today as three years ago, so even food inflation can't really be that bad yet, can it?