Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Posted by Scriptaty | 9:07 PM

What it is: The difference in price from one month to the next for a fixed basket of consumer products, used as a common measure of inflation. The “Core CPI” does not include food and energy prices.

Who puts it out: Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://stats.bls.gov).

When it’s released: 8:30 a.m. ET around the 15th of the month for the previous month’s data (i.e., the March CPI is released around April 15).

What it means: A rising CPI indicates increasing inflation, while a high CPI indicates already high inflation. According to standard economic theory, inflation increases when supply no longer can keep up with demand, which usually occurs at or near the peak of the business cycle and when the unemployment rate is low.

High inflation, or expectations of high inflation, usually leads to higher interest rates, as lenders of money want to be compensated for the diminishing purchasing power of their dollars. Higher interest rates, in turn, mean higher costs of doing business for all parties in the economy (both investors and companies).

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