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April 13, 2005

Inflation Pressures without Wage Growth

William Polley http://www.williampolley.com/blog/archives/2005/04/index.html#000276 talks bout the FOMC minutes:

The minutes of the March meeting are out. As is often the case, the really good stuff is towards the end. Here are some highlights.

Meeting participants... They noted with some concern the recent elevated readings on inflation in prices of core personal consumption expenditures, the producer price index, and indicators of prices at earlier stages of production, as well as the sizable further increase in energy prices. Nonetheless, many participants stated that they expected total inflation to diminish and any rise in core consumer inflation to be limited. One source of upward pressure on inflation had been the rise in energy prices.... Unit labor costs were still being held down by moderate wage growth and rising productivity.... [T]he markup of prices over costs in nonfarm businesses remained quite high, and firms would likely be pressed by competition to absorb a portion of any step-up in the growth of unit labor costs.... [I]n the past commodity prices had demonstrated little predictive content for broad inflation rates.... [M]onetary policy would be aimed at preserving price stability.

Still, many participants indicated that their uncertainty about the intensity of inflation pressures had risen in response to recent developments.... Moreover, the recent rebound in spot crude oil prices, and especially the substantial advance in prices of crude oil futures contracts for delivery well into the future, suggested that a significant unwinding of higher energy costs might not be in prospect. Several participants indicated that, in current circumstances, they viewed an upside surprise to inflation as potentially more harmful than an equivalent downside surprise, partly because such an outcome could well impart additional upward momentum to inflation expectations....

Polley has a bunch more to talk about as well.

Posted by DeLong at April 13, 2005 11:44 AM