The latest batch of government economic data reveals a new theme: inflation-free boom. It's a business-led scenario this country hasn't seen in many years, and it could mean another 8-to-10-year prosperity cycle is on the way.
Illustrating the renaissance in American business investment and production, the S&P industrials sub-index has gained nearly 10 percent just since September. The November industrial-production report published by the Federal Reserve Board surged spectacularly above expectations, while production figures for the prior two months were revised upward. Since August, industrial production has grown at an outsized 7.8 percent annual rate.
But here's a critical revelation within the new data. Computer and office equipment has surged 32.6 percent, and the high-tech index of computers, communications equipment and semiconductors has exploded at a 50.7 percent annual pace. Did someone say capital expenditures? Yes. Capex is back. So is tech. Tanned, rested and ready.
New high-tech applications, funded by a resurgence of business investment, are setting the stage for a powerful new economic growth surge. In the process, record productivity is producing record profits. As a result, profits, jobs and incomes will surprise everybody on the upside next year.
While retail sales over the past three months have temporarily slowed to a 2.1 percent yearly pace (following a 6.6 percent surge in the third quarter), production has moved ahead roughly three times faster. America is now producing more rapidly than it is consuming. Supply is growing faster than demand.
So inflation remains nonexistent. The consumer price index actually fell slightly in November, and over the past 12 months the core CPI has increased only 1.1 percent, the smallest gain in 38 years. The chain-weighted core CPI, a more accurate measure, as it frequently adjusts a basket of prices to reflect shifting consumer preferences, has increased only 0.6 percent over the past year -- a trifle.
In effect, America's businesses are producing at a torrid 8 percent rate without generating any inflation. Keynesian demand-siders who believe that growth causes inflation should take their models out behind the barn and shoot them. As profits and production continue to rise, more jobs and higher worker incomes will spur a new round of consumer spending this winter and spring. Supply creates its own demand.
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