According to the latest Consumer Price Index data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for consumers in the U.S. jumped 6.8% in November compared to the same time period last year.  Surging costs for food, energy, housing and other items has left Americans enduring their highest annual inflation rate in 39 years.

The pace of inflation over the past year escalated the rate to the 6.8% from 6.2% in the prior month. That’s more than triple the Federal Reserve’s 2% target and is the highest rate since July of 1982. 

A string of higher-than-expected inflation readings since the summer is likely to push the Fed to speed up plans to phase out stimulus for the economy by early spring, several months earlier than it had planned. Top central bank officials meet next week to plot their next step.

Another closely watched measure of inflation that omits volatile food and energy costs jumped 0.5% last month. This so-called core rate is closely followed by economists as a more accurate measure of underlying inflation. The 12-month increase in the core rate climbed to 4.9% from 4.6% and remained at a 30-year peak. The last time the core reached 5% was in mid-1991.

Soaring inflation is outstripping the biggest increase in worker wages in decades. Inflation-adjusted hourly pay was 1.9% lower in November compared to a year ago. This means paychecks aren’t buying as much as they used to buy.
Inflation is here to say, according to many financial analysts, and the Federal Reserve is leaving the economy and everyday Americans at risk by keeping rates so low.

Biden made inflation a top priority last month, after the October CPI saw its sharpest annual increase since 1990.
That surprised analysts and gave Republican’s ammunition to use against his landmark Build Back Better plan, which would spend $1.8 trillion on improving social services and fighting climate change. His new bill faces a tough road in Congress, as Democrats control by a narrow margin.

Gilbert Garcia, a managing partner at Garcia Hamilton & Associates in Houston said, “Inflation is too high and the central bank needs to move quicker to get it under control by raising rates. Every day Americans are having a very difficult time with food inflation, which is running very close to 30-40%.

Mickey Levy, chief economist covering the Americas and Asia at Berenberg Capital Markets​, pointed to supply bottlenecks, the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policies and pandemic recovery legislation enacted under Biden and for Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Levy said, “The Biden administration fears the negative political fallout of the impact of higher inflation on households and is trying to defer the blame on special factors.”​

Some of the high inflation readings have stemmed from price increase for commodities like oil that has pushed gas prices higher in the United States, but seeming to ease slightly.

Another issue has been prices of automobiles due to the worldwide shortage of semiconductors created scarcity of new cars, and raised prices for used vehicles.

Chief U.S. economist at Barclays Investment Bank, Michael Gapen noted, “Auto prices had started to show signs of decreasing, cut then Hurrican Ida destroyed 200,000 autos in the United States in late August, adding to the shortage.”He did predict price increases would reach their peak in the months to come, a view shared by other economists as supply chains unkink themselves and factories rebuild depleted inventories.

Levy added, “Looking forward, we expect we are at the point, basically, where year-on-year inflation is peaking, and we do expect inflation to slow pretty dramatically over the course of 2022.”

Senior economist Sal Guatieri of BMO Capital Markets said, “U.,S. inflation was even hotter than expected in November and is now running the fastest in four decades, with little near-term relief in sight.” The Fed has little choice but to accelerate tapering and prepare for the possibility of much earlier rate hikes than it was planning just a few months  ago.”

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