Friday, October 29, 2010
The GDP deflator is the broadest measure of inflation, and with the release today of Q3 GDP statistics, we see that the deflator has been rising at just over a 2% annualized rate for the past two quarters. The deflator dipped into deflationary territory in Q4/08 (-1.2%) and again in Q4/09 (just barely, -0.3%), but it's been positive for the past three quarters. If we take recent Fed pronouncements at face value (i.e., inflation is unacceptable if it's less than 2%), then a 2% pace for the GDP deflator is close enough to perfection for government work. The time for stimulus has come and gone.
It's also very important to note that inflation has turned positive despite the fact that the economy remains far below its "full employment" level, with tons of "idle capacity." According to Phillips Curve dogma, which permeates Fed thinking, this is not supposed to happen. With the economy suffering from so much "slack," inflation pressures should be virtually nonexistent or most likely negative. This is the thinking that has propelled the Fed to the cusp of QE2: they feel they have to pump up demand or face some serious deflation. Well, so far it's not working out that way. That's one more reason why QE2 is unnecessary—the Phillips Curve theory does not adequately explain how inflation works.
Posted by Scott Grannis at 9:00 AM