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Tipsheet

Inflation Surges Past Expectations Again

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In one of the final economic reports of 2022, the Biden administration again saw the fruit of its "build back better" policy efforts in the Producer Price Index's hotter-than-expected read for November. 

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The PPI report — measuring inflation upstream from consumers — showed an increase of 0.3 percent in November's headline number for an advance of 7.4 percent over the previous 12 months while 7.2 percent PPI inflation had been the consensus estimate. 

Among the items that drove inflation past estimates, specifically in the increased costs for final demand goods, was the index for fresh and dry vegetables that spiked 38.1 percent in November, while prices for eggs and meats also increased.

Notably, as seen in the chart below showing the PPI month-over-month changes, increases have moderated from their 40-year highs earlier in 2022 but the headline number has remained steady since the summer while core PPI inflation — excluding more-volatile food and energy prices for producers — is again turning upward. 

The PPI report for November sent market futures tumbling as worse-than-projected inflation numbers raised worries again of more aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve as the central bank fights to tame inflation. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said his goal is to get inflation back down to just two percent, but that achieving his goal would lead to more pain for Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet as real wages continue to trend negative.

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The PPI read that surpassed estimates also stoked fears that next Tuesday's Consumer Price Index report will also show inflation running hotter than Wall Street expects as those data points routinely reflect the increased cost burden being carried by producers who must pass some of those increases on to the end consumer. 

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