Winners, losers in low inflation climate

Jill Schlesinger

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The government reported today retail sales rose six-tenths of a percent, helped by car sales and electronics and furniture. Also word today the Consumer Price Index rose slightly -- but only very slightly -- a tenth of a percent. We're going to bring in Jill Schlesinger from CBS MoneyWatch. She's with us on Fridays to talk about the latest data. Good morning, Jill.

JILL SCHLESINGER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Let's start with consumer prices, barely nudged. One-tenth of a percent, that means no inflation. Who are the big winners in that environment?

SCHLESINGER: Well I think the biggest winner is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is speaking right now in Boston, where he is saying there really needs to be more action by the Fed to spur the economy. Well, a low inflation environment gives him the permission and the ability to not just keep rates low, but to go out and buy mortgage-backed securities and other bonds to flood the economy with more money to hopefully spur a better recover than we're having now.

CHIOTAKIS: That's just one less thing to worry about, right?

SCHLESINGER: Yes. Exactly.

CHIOTAKIS: Anybody on the short end of the non-inflation stick, Jill?

SCHLESINGER: Well, I'm afraid there are a lot of people on the short end -- 58 million Americans to be specific. Those who receive Social Security are not going to get a raise next year. The so-called Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is going to be zero because there is no inflation. And that's a real concern for folks who are living on a fixed income. Now I will say that when I was a financial planner, these were the kinds of people who used to go out and say, "Well, if I don't get a raise from Social Security, maybe I'll pick up some part-time work." I'm afraid that isn't available now.

CHIOTAKIS: All right. Jill Schlesinger from CBS MoneyWatch, thanks.

SCHLESINGER: Take care.

CHIOTAKIS: We appreciate it.

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