skip navigation

By the Numbers

Featuring brief segments of economic analysis from our senior economist Michael Bazdarich, PhD.

The economic analysis we previously featured in By the Numbers is now available on the Western Asset Blog. This page will no longer be updated.

CPI Inflation Bounces in July

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2% in July, or 2.7% annualized, and was up 2.9% over the past 12 months. The closely watched core CPI, excluding food and energy prices, also rose 0.2%, 3.0% annualized, and was up 2.4% over the last 12 months. These July inflation rates were higher than what we had seen in the previous five months, though less of a bounce than that recorded for January 2018.

Price gains were headed by relatively large gains for new cars (+0.3%), used cars (+1.3%), and airfares (+2.7%). Prices declined in both June and July for apparel, following earlier gains, and for medical care commodities, while medical care services prices rose "only" 0.1%.

Last month, we pushed back against the consensus view that inflation was accelerating. We thought it more likely that CPI inflation was stable around a 2.0% trend. Apart from that aforementioned January spike, monthly inflation rates had not shown any sign of accelerating relative to the pace of the last few years.

(And, yes, a 12-month inflation rate was rising steadily, but that was occurring on the strength of that outsized January hike. In other words, other "filters" of the core CPI data did not exhibit an accelerating trend.)

As seen in the accompanying chart, the July price gains were above the general range of the past few years, though not by a lot. We would still argue that the assertion of accelerating inflation is far from clear in the data, but admittedly that assertion is a bit harder to push today than it was a month ago. As usual, we’ll have to see how subsequent data changes the picture, either toward or against our position.

July CPI
July CPI
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 31 Jul 18

Michael Bazdarich

Product Specialist/Economist

Mike brings more than 45 years of experience to his position. "By the Numbers" will address economic data releases that are pertinent to a broad range of investors.

Prior to joining the Firm in 2005, Mike ran his own consulting firm, MB Economics. He earned his PhD in Economics at the University of Chicago.

Sign up to receive email updates as new reports are released.

© Western Asset Management Company, LLC 2022. This publication is the property of Western Asset and is intended for the sole use of its clients, consultants, and other intended recipients. It should not be forwarded to any other person. Contents herein should be treated as confidential and proprietary information. This material may not be reproduced or used in any form or medium without express written permission.
Past results are not indicative of future investment results. This publication is for informational purposes only and reflects the current opinions of Western Asset. Information contained herein is believed to be accurate, but cannot be guaranteed. Opinions represented are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security and are subject to change without notice. Statements in this material should not be considered investment advice. Employees and/or clients of Western Asset may have a position in the securities mentioned. This publication has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is your responsibility to be aware of and observe the applicable laws and regulations of your country of residence.
Western Asset Management Company Distribuidora de Títulos e Valores Mobiliários Limitada is authorized and regulated by Comissão de Valores Mobiliários and Brazilian Central Bank. Western Asset Management Company Pty Ltd ABN 41 117 767 923 is the holder of the Australian Financial Services Licence 303160. Western Asset Management Company Pte. Ltd. Co. Reg. No. 200007692R is a holder of a Capital Markets Services Licence for fund management and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Western Asset Management Company Ltd is a registered Financial Instruments Business Operator and regulated by the Financial Services Agency of Japan. Western Asset Management Company Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) (FRN 145930). This communication is intended for distribution to Professional Clients only if deemed to be a financial promotion in the UK as defined by the FCA. This communication may also be intended for certain EEA countries where Western Asset has been granted permission to do so. For the current list of the approved EEA countries please contact Western Asset at +44 (0)20 7422 3000.