- Bidenflation at 17.0% erodes Americans’ purchasing power
- Annualized Bidenflation hits 6.2%, nearly double the CPI
- Sharp rise in food prices, little improvement in core prices
- Real wages not keeping up
- U.S. economy grapples with stagflation
The dark reality of Bidenomics is 17.0% inflation under President Biden’s watch. When he took office, inflation was at just 1.4%. Biden’s policies are a complete and utter failure that has led to stagflation in the United States.
Inflation is a tax on citizens, forcing them to spend $709 a month more than they did two years ago. Inflation has stayed above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for 32 consecutive months.
According to the Labor Department, average hourly earnings for all employees dropped 3.32% to $11.05 in October from $11.43 in January 2021 when Biden assumed office. Despite nominal salary increases at their fastest pace in years, American workers are now worse off than two years ago.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the government on Tuesday showed a 3.2% year-over-year price increase from October 2022 to October 2023.
The CPI rate had declined steadily from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June 2022 to 3.0% in June 2023 for 12 consecutive months. In July, it broke that run and increased to 3.2%, and further increased for the second month in August to 3.7% and remained at 3.7% in September. In October, it returned to 3.2%.
The CPI remained unchanged (0.0%) between September 2023 and October 2023 after adjusting for seasonality and increased by 0.18% on an unadjusted basis. In the same period, Food prices rose by 0.3%, Energy prices declined by 2.5%, and All items except food and energy (Core) increased by 0.2%
Wall Street celebrated the CPI report, anticipating a Fed pause in rate hikes. Some economists predict we might avoid a recession, believing this time it is different. According to the Wall Street Journal, if true, it would be the first time the Fed tamed significant inflation without triggering a recession in 80 years.
Unlike these economists, we belong to the ‘curmudgeon camp,’ where we believe indicators such as weak tax revenue, an inverted yield curve, and a contracting manufacturing sector point to a slowing economy. Public opinion aligns with our perspective. For instance, the November TIPP Poll revealed that most Americans view the economy negatively. More than half (54%) believe we are in a recession, and seven out of ten (70%) feel the economy is not improving. Perception is reality.
President Biden took a victory lap for Bidenomics:
Today we saw more progress bringing down inflation while maintaining one of the strongest job markets in history. At 3.2%, annual inflation is now down by 65% from the peak. Gas prices are below $3.40 per gallon, reflecting an average decline of $1.65 from the peak after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Inflation has come down while the unemployment rate has been below 4% for 21 months in a row—the longest stretch in more than 50 years—while wages, wealth, and the share of working-age Americans with jobs are all higher now than before the pandemic.
President Biden, like his media allies, is known for his skill in selectively presenting only positive news and ignoring any negative news.
But we’ll deliver to you their omissions.
First, food prices rose 0.3% between September and October 2023. The average increase over the past 12 months is 0.26%, and the past three months is 0.23%.
Core prices (all items less food and energy) materially did not improve. See the chart below. Core prices rose by 0.18% from September to October 2023. The base readings from September 2022 to October 2022 saw a bigger increase of 0.29%. This substantial base increase creates the illusion of reduced inflation in October, even though underlying inflation remains steady.
While it is true that the unemployment rate has been low, real wages are not growing in pace with inflation.
We developed the TIPP CPI, a metric that uses February 2021, the month after President Biden’s inauguration, as its base. All TIPP CPI measures are anchored to the base month of February 2021, making it exclusive to the economy under President Biden’s watch.
We use the relevant data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to calculate the TIPP CPI, but we adjust the period to Biden’s tenure. CPIs are like index numbers that show how prices affect people’s lives, similar to how the Dow Jones Industrial Average reflects the stock market.
When discussing the TIPP CPI and the BLS CPI, we convert the index numbers into percentage changes to better understand and compare them.
Bidenflation, measured by the TIPP CPI using the same underlying data, stayed steady at 17% in October. It was 17.0% in September, 16.7% in August, and 16.2% in July.
By the middle of 2022, significant inflation had already taken hold. In October 2022, CPI inflation stood at 7.7 percent. As the official BLS CPI year-over-year increases will compare prices to already inflated bases in the coming months, these statistics might mask the full impact.
TIPP CPI vs. BLS CPI
The following four charts present details about the new metric.
The annual CPI increase reported by BLS is 3.2% for October 2023. Compare this to the TIPP CPI of 17.0%, a 13.7-point difference. Prices have increased by 17.0% since President Biden took office. On an annualized basis, TIPP CPI is 6.2%.
Food prices increased by 20.0% under Biden compared to only 3.3% as per BLS CPI, a difference of 16.7 points.
TIPP CPI data show that Energy prices increased by 34.5%. But, according to the BLS CPI, energy prices improved by 4.5%. The difference between the two is a whopping 39.0 points.
The Core CPI is the price increase for all items, excluding food and energy. The Core TIPP CPI was 15.0% compared to 4.0% BLS CPI in the year-over-year measure, an 11.0-point difference.
Further, Gasoline prices have increased by 44.8% since President Biden took office, whereas the BLS CPI shows that gasoline price has improved by 5.3%, a difference of 50.1 points.
TIPP CPI finds that Used car prices have risen by 23.1% during President Biden’s term. Meanwhile, the BLS CPI reports that the prices have dropped 7.1%, a difference of 30.3 points.
Inflation for air tickets under President Biden is 29.6% compared to the BLS CPI’s finding of an improvement of 13.2%, a difference of 42.8 points.
The latest TIPP Poll, completed earlier this month, shows nine in ten (87%) survey respondents are concerned about inflation. Since January 2022, inflation concerns have stayed above 85%. The “very concerned” share has been over 50% for twenty-one months.
Over half (52%) say their wages have not kept up with inflation. Only 24% say their income has kept pace with inflation.
This statistic hovered in the low twenties for most of the last year. The positive change between January and March has petered out since May. Notice the steady descent from March 2023. It posted 16% in October after the September blip of 20%. In November, it jumped back to 24%
Nominal wages represent the amount of money one earns without considering changes in the cost of living. On the other hand, real wages consider inflation and measure the wages’ purchasing power. Real wages provide a more accurate reflection of what is affordable with the income earned by factoring in the changes in the cost of living.
Real weekly wages measured year-over-year dropped for 26 of the 34 months of the Biden presidency. It broke the 26-month negative run in June and posted positive readings for three months. However, it is barely above zero in September.
As a result of inflation, Americans are cutting back on household spending.
They are cutting back on entertainment (79%), eating out (78%), purchasing big-ticket items (78%), holiday/vacation travel (77%), and memberships/subscriptions (70%).
Many (68%) are cutting back on even good causes such as charity giving. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of households spend less on groceries. The high gasoline prices forced 61% to cut back on local driving.
The chart below compares the 12-month average of monthly changes against the 6-month and the 3-month averages. We also show the reading for October 2023.
The 12-month average considers 12 data points and presents a long-term reference, while the six-month and three-month averages consider recent data points.
Typically, we compare the three-month average with the data from October 2023 to gain a clearer perspective. In October 2023, the price increase for All items was 0.0%, smaller than the three-month average of 0.33%. This shows a significant improvement in October.
Meanwhile, the three-month average of 0.33% is higher than the six-month average of 0.25%, indicating a recent acceleration in the rate of increase over the last three months.
Furthermore, the six-month average of 0.25% is lesser than the twelve-month average of 0.27%, an improvement in the trend over the last six months.
In conclusion, this pattern suggests that price increases have slowed down in October compared to the long term. Even though the ideal pattern is a downward-pointed staircase, we are happy to see the improvement.
In October, Food prices rose by 0.30%, exceeding the 3-month average of 0.23%, the 6-month average of 0.20%, and the 12-month average of 0.26%. This acceleration in October is disappointing.
Meanwhile, Energy prices decreased by 2.5%, less than the three-month moving average of 1.53%, indicating improvement. It also outperformed the 12-month average of -0.36% and the six-month average of 0.28%.
All items less food and energy, known as “core inflation,” represents inflation after excluding the volatile food and energy components. In October, core inflation was 0.20%, lower than the three-month average of 0.27%, indicating improvement for the month.
Both the three-month and six-month averages remained at 0.27%, suggesting stable core inflation over these periods. However, the six-month average of 0.27% is lower than the 12-month average of 0.33%, suggesting improvement.
In summary, except for food prices, we see an overall improvement.
Since March 2022, the Fed has raised interest 11 consecutive times, bringing its benchmark interest rate to 5.25%, the highest level in 22 years. High interest rates are likely to slow down the economy further.
Each time the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to contain inflation, the U.S. government must pay more interest to service its ballooning debt. A rising debt-to-GDP ratio limits the ability to fund essential government services.
The national debt is touching $34 trillion while the interest rates are increasing, which is a big issue for the government because it relies on borrowed money to cover expenses.
For example, in October, the government had to pay $41 billion more in interest on the debt than the previous year, totaling $88.9 billion. The interest paid was higher than what they spent on national defense and even more than what the government spent on both Medicaid and Medicare health insurance programs combined.
The CPI report gave hope to many that the Fed is done with rate hikes. With core CPI above 4.0% and geopolitical tensions that could lead to volatility in oil supply, we are unsure of what is on the horizon. We also don’t subscribe to the “no recession” idea. One thing is certain – a sluggish economy lies ahead.
To access the TIPP CPI readings each month, you can visit tippinsights.com. We’ll publish the TIPP CPI and our analysis in the days following the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. The upcoming release of TIPP CPI is on December 13, 2023. We’ll also post a spreadsheet in our store for download.
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Want to understand better? We recently wrote an explainer on inflation that sixth graders could understand. Everyone can benefit from it. Milton Friedman’s Priceless Lessons On Inflation.
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Geopolitics And Geoeconomics
Israel says it will allow two fuel trucks a day to enter the Gaza Strip after pressure to do so from the U.S.
A U.S. State Department official says around 140,000 liters of fuel will be allowed every two days. The official said that most of that is intended for trucks delivering aid and supporting the UN in providing water and sanitation.
Telecom services have been partially restored in the Gaza Strip after the entry of a limited quantity of fuel through UNRWA, Gaza’s main telecommunications companies, Paltel and Jawwal said.
About 4,500 gallons of fuel entered Gaza Friday through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, a Palestinian border official said, the first shipment since Israel’s war cabinet said it would allow regular deliveries.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that “Zionist” hostages were not held in hospitals but were transferred to care centers for treatment due to the seriousness of their condition and to save their lives.
Israel says Hamas has stored weapons and ammunition and is holding hostages in a network of tunnels under hospitals like Al-Shifa, using patients and people taking shelter there as human shields. Hamas denies this.
“Call it what you will, but the requirement, from a humanitarian point of view, is simple. Stop the fighting to allow civilians to move safely,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in an address to the UN General Assembly.
“We are not asking for the moon,” Griffiths said. Griffiths also called for the release of all hostages held in Gaza without condition.
Asia-Pacific leaders did not refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or the Israel-Hamas war in their joint declaration released after an annual summit, laying bare their disunity over the two ongoing conflicts even as they sought to boost economic cooperation.
Due to divisions over the conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, U.S. President Joe Biden, who hosted the summit on Wednesday, issued a separate chair’s statement that does not require consensus, saying that “most members strongly” condemned the aggression against Ukraine.
“We understand that this fact is good for us — their meeting,” Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv after the U.S. and Chinese leaders held talks in California.
Earlier Thursday, a close aide to Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, voiced “cautious optimism” over the Xi-Biden meeting, clouded by the U.S. leader’s characterization of Xi as a “dictator.”
The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, approved a federal budget that increases spending by around 25 percent in 2024.
Under the spending plan, the country’s largest-ever defense spending is expected to overtake social spending next year for the first time in modern Russian history.
The budget for 2024-26 was developed specifically to fund the Russian military and to mitigate the impact of “17,500 sanctions” on Russia, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said.
8. Conference On Military-Industrial Cooperation Between U.S., Ukraine To Take Place In December – RFE/RL
The U.S. government will host the conference on December 6-7, NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
Zelenskyy said in his evening address that during his visit to Washington, he and President Joe Biden “agreed on specific steps we can take together,” and these steps “will undoubtedly strengthen both Americans and Ukrainians, as well as our partners.”
The designation by the Russian Justice Ministry means increased financial scrutiny for those designated and requires them to prominently include the label on anything they publish.
The Moscow Times, an online newspaper popular among Russia’s expatriate community, moved its editorial operations out of Russia in 2022 after passing a law imposing stiff penalties for publishing anything that the government deems discredits the Russian military and its war in Ukraine.
A video of a Russian soldier in Ukraine talking about ammunition supplied by North Korea surfaced on social media, debunking denials by Pyongyang and Moscow that North Korea is supplying weapons for the war there.
The video shows a Russian soldier standing in front of a pile of rockets. “Our friends gave us a new type of ammunition similar to the twenty-second,” the soldier said in a possible reference to the rocket’s designation of R-122.
The Finnish Border Guard has said that these will erect barriers at four border crossings with Russia from midnight to stop the increasing flow of migrants.
Finland alleges that Russian authorities are funneling migrants as retaliation for its decision to enhance defense cooperation with the U.S. The Kremlin denies the claim.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sought to cool tensions over the South China Sea at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in San Francisco.
“Essentially, we tried to devise mechanisms to lower the tensions in [the] South China Sea,” Marcos said following the summit he initiated with Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ gathering.
Australian naval personnel allegedly sustained minor injuries on Nov 14 after an “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct by a Chinese warship in international waters off Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said his government had expressed “serious concerns” to the Chinese side regarding the encounter between the HMAS Toowoomba and the People’s Liberation Army-Navy’s (PLAN) destroyer.
The United States and the Philippines sealed a landmark nuclear deal that will let the U.S. export nuclear tech and material to Manila.
The Philippines plans to use nuclear power to decarbonize and take further steps towards energy independence. The Philippines seeks to reduce dependence on and retire coal plants to meet climate goals. The country wants to tap nuclear power as an alternative power source to boost its energy security.
15. Iran FM: U.S. Warnings To Hezbollah Won’t Make Group ‘Cautious In Its Decision-Making’ – Al Arabiya
Iran’s top diplomat has said Washington’s warnings to Lebanese Hezbollah would not make the group backed by Tehran for decades “cautious in its decision-making” on the Gaza war.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also disclosed that the U.S. and Iran had been indirectly speaking about the Gaza war since Hamas carried out its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking action against e-cigarettes disguised to look like everyday items that appeal to young people.
The FDA sent warning letters to seven online retailers selling unauthorized vape devices that look like drink containers, toys, and phones. The warning letters cover unauthorized products that imitate youth-appealing drinks, like milk cartons, soda bottles, convenience store slushies, and children’s sippy cups.
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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights