CPI numbers are just out. With the caveat that CPI numbers are fudged beyond all reality, they're still huge:
U.S. consumer prices rose more than forecast in November, driven by a jump in energy costs that may raise concern inflation hasn't been tamed.
The consumer price index increased 0.8 percent, the most since September 2005, after a 0.3 percent gain in October, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Prices excluding food and energy, known as the core rate, climbed 0.3 percent, also more than anticipated.
Not that it's a huge surprise in light of the PPI numbers yesterday. What did surprise some people was that the retail sales numbers have held up as well as they have. But as Dean Baker points out, all is not as it seems:
First, more than half the gain in reported sales was due to higher gas sales. This was due to higher gas prices, not a rush to the pumps. Pulling out the surge in gas sales, retail sales were up by just under 0.6 percent.
This is still a decent pace, except that we don't yet know how much of this was due to higher prices, as opposed to greater sales volume. If the price of retail goods and services other than gas rose by 0.3 percent, than we are looking at a rather modest real growth rate in the 0.2 to 0.3 percent range. Since this follows a month of essentially no growth, that doesn't look particularly strong. This is especially the case, since the earlier than usual Thanksgiving undoubtedly shifted some holiday shopping forward into November.
Sure is starting to look like 70s-style stagflation, with the Fed trying to press the gas and the brake at the same time.