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Continuing Inflation Data, Political Considerations May Quicken Tapering

Last week’s release of the October PCE numbers continued the steady drumbeat of inflationary data. Some perspective: the PCE is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the target rate is 2.0%. Since the Great Recession, the PCE has lingered below 2.00%, popping up to barely above 2.00% on a few occasions (2011, 2016, 2017). The July 2021 to October 2021 annual rates: 4.03%, 4.14%, 4.21%, 4.42%, 5.05%. “Transitory” inflation talk is in the rear view mirror. Not only that, inflation has “support”. Real consumer spending rose 0.7% last month alone. This indicates that higher prices are not dissuading consumers to purchase goods. Powell has been nominated for another term, markets seem to be happy with that as it means no major policy changes. However, Powell will need Senate confirmation. The release of Fed minutes last week showed some support for earlier than anticipated rate increases to reign in inflation. Powell may want to speed up the decline in monthly bond purchases ahead of his February hearing. Next month’s Fed meeting may feature a more hawkish Fed. Stay tuned. By David R. Pascale, Jr. , Senior Vice President at George Smith Partners