In March alone, consumer prices climbed 0.6%. That was more than expected, as well as the largest increase since August 2012.Other transportation costs including airline fares and public transport also rose in March, jumping 1.8% after three straight months of declines. That gain was mostly driven by increases in car rental and car insurance prices. Transport costs are still down year-over-year, however.
Will higher inflation stick?
The question remains: The question remains: Is this a temporary sugar rush from the reopening of the economy, or the start of price hikes that could eat into corporate profits and persuade consumers to stop spending?
The jury is still out, but economists predict inflation will continue to heat up over the summer months, especially as people are starting to travel again.Last week's report on producer price inflation, which measures the change in sale prices for goods and services, also came in above expectations. Prices are rising as the economy is gathering steam. The great reopening fueled by the continuing vaccine rollout is helping to release some of the pent-up consumer demand.
Temporarily higher inflation was to be expected. An economy as large as America's can't just be turned off and on again without any such effects, some economists have noted.
But it's important to note the context of the year-over-year comparisons: Prices pulled back significantly after the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020 and shutdowns began, making this year's price increases look bigger.Higher inflation is a good sign for the economic recovery in this case. But investors worry that sudden price spikes will force the Federal Reserve to adjust its loose money policies sooner than hoped, which would be bad news for the stock market.
And because of the historical comparison, inflation will seem to rise rapidly into mid-year and add to the narrative that the Fed isn't seeing the inflation risk. But pri...