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Overall Consumer Prices, Consumer Sentiment On Rise

Reuters reports that “overall, U.S. consumer prices in April were up about 3.1% compared with February 2020, the month before the pandemic shut down the economy. Data published Friday showed a separate measure of inflation surging 3.6% last month, and underlying inflation excluding volatile gas and food prices gaining 3.1%, its largest annual increase since 1992.

“And that may be only the beginning. A survey from the University of Michigan on Friday showed consumers’ one-year inflation expectations shot up to 4.6% in May from 3.4% in April.

Prices are expected to keep rising for much of the summer, pushed up by, among other things, bottlenecks crimping supply of both materials and labor, and surging consumer demand.”

Meanwhile, “Consumer sentiment rose in March, reaching its highest level in a year – mainly due to the third disbursement of relief checks and better-than-anticipated vaccination progress, according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.”

U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, tells Reuters that “the recovery is far from complete as less than half of the fall in consumer sentiment has so far been recovered, and the current and prospective stimulus and infrastructure spending has the potential to spark a renewed inflationary psychology, although that will not occur immediately … Inflationary psychology preceded actual inflation by about two years in the last bout in the 1970s. The key balance is not to underestimate the ultimate impact of those policies on jobs and inflation, and not to overestimate the ability of policies to bring any excesses to a painless soft-landing.”

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