From the Desk of Willie Delwiche.
After unexpectedly good headline and core CPI prints for November, the stocks were caught off guard by unexpectedly hawkish forecasts on both rates and inflation when the Fed released its Summary of Economic Projections following Wednesday’s FOMC meeting.
Why It Matters: The market is used to looking at core CPI as a way to filter out inflation noise. The problem is that core CPI was created with political motives, not for economic clarity. The median CPI is a better tool for discerning underlying trends. Central tendency measures of inflation (like the median CPI) were slower to climb post-COVID but now show inflationary pressure persisting. This helps explain why the Fed is likely to remain in inflation fighting mode longer than the market now expects. The Fed’s record here is not without blemish. Pre-COVID they were overly focused on the core indexes and missed the building of inflation pressure. In 2012, both the median and core CPI showed inflation near 2.3%. Core CPI was still there in the summer of 2019, while median CPI was at 3.0% and at its highest level in a decade. The market is missing the Fed’s inflation message, after the Fed missed the mark on inflation by falling years, not months, behind the curve.
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