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No Data for CPI and COLA

  • Because of the government shutdown, there is no data on the consumer price index (CPI).
  • Today, based on CPI, was to be the day to compute the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for social security payments beginning next year. The rise would likely have been 1.3 percent to 1.6 percent.
  • A tame inflation permits the Federal Reserve to continue the ultra-loose monetary policy of keeping short-terms rates low and continuing Quantitative Easing (printing of the money to buy bonds) for a longer period.  Low inflation is also good to keep longer-term interest rates low as the lenders do not have to mark-up extra in order to compensate for the future loss in purchasing power of money.
  • With no data, we don’t know what happened last month, but a very long trend is not much impacted by a single month of data. Over the past 30 years, price growths have been the following for select items below.
  • Note that prices more than doubled for all items and services (+133%). Colleges may be ripping off students, particularly acute now given the great underemployment among many recent college graduates.
  • Of note for housing (in green below), rents rose by 167% while home prices rose by 197%. For those locked-in to 30-year fixed rate mortgages, the payment never changed. Property taxes, lawn care, and other maintenance costs no doubt rose, however.

Lawrence Yun, PhD., Chief Economist and Senior Vice President

Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at NAR. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.

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