Consumer Prices September 2009 – Real Prices Down 4.7%

The BLS reported yesterday:

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.2 percent in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The increase was less than the 0.4 percent rise in August. The index has decreased 1.3 percent over the last 12 months on a not seasonally adjusted basis.

The seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index was broad based, although tempered by a decline in the food index. The all items less food and energy index increased 0.2 percent in September after increasing 0.1 percent in each of the previous two months. Contributing to this increase were advances in the indexes for lodging away from home, medical care, new vehicles, used cars and trucks, and public transportation. The increase occurred despite declines in the indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent, the first decreases in those indexes since 1992. The energy index also increased in September, as increases in the indexes for gasoline, fuel oil and electricity more than offset a decline in the index for natural gas.

In contrast to these increases, the food index declined, falling for the sixth time in the last eight months. The index for food away from home increased, but the food at home index declined as the indexes for fruits and vegetables and for meats, poultry, fish and eggs fell sharply. Both the food and energy indexes have declined over the past 12 months. The decline in the food index is the first 12-month decrease in that index in over 40 years.

Note that there are a lot of  “first time in x years” declines in the report above.

And what about real prices, meaning prices where the unrealisic owner’s equivalent rent is replaced with the decline in the case shiller (most recently 12.76%) index? If we make that adjustment, real annual price declines were actually -4.7%.


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