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Richard DeKaser: Inflation affects food and gasoline prices

Jeremy Hobson Feb 16, 2011
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Richard DeKaser: Inflation affects food and gasoline prices

Jeremy Hobson Feb 16, 2011
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TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Now let’s get to this morning’s inflation numbers. The government says wholesale prices jumped almost a percent in January thanks to a 7 percent rise in gas prices. The core index, which doesn’t include food and energy prices, was up a half percent.

Let’s bring in Richard Dekaser, economist at the Parthenon Group. He’s with us live now from Boston. Good morning.

RICHARD DEKASER: Good morning.

HOBSON: So are you concerned by these inflation numbers?

DEKASER: Personally, I’m not. Now, you know, I need to qualify that because if you buy gasoline — people do — you’re looking at a 20 percent price increase over the past year. And that’s not something to dismiss. And if you buy food — and everyone does that — those prices have gone up a bunch too. So for a lot of people, and a lot of businesses, this is real inflation. But for central bankers, the likes of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, it’s a bit less of a concern.

HOBSON: Explain that. Why is this not the kind of inflation that would scare Ben Bernanke, who’s obviously been pumping a lot of money into the economy?

DEKASER: Right, they put about $2 trillion of money into the economy in the past year. But commodity prices are incredibly volatile. They go up, they go down. Underlying inflation tends to be much more stable. And here’s what he said just 20 days ago — “Although commodity prices have risen, longer term inflation expectations have remained stable and measures of underlying inflation have been trending downward.” It’s that underlying rate that really preoccupies him. That has been modest over the past year, just up 1.6 percent.

HOBSON: Richard DeKaser, economist at the Parthenon Group, thanks so much as always.

DEKASER: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

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