There was a slight uptick in the broad consumer inflation measure in November. More interesting is the housing components, which continue to show high figures. Housing shortage still persists and this condition will jack-up the broad inflation rate in 2016. The Fed then will have to raise interest rates few additional times.
Numerically, the broad CPI inflation rose 0.4 percent from one year ago, though less than one percent it is the highest of the year. Directionally therefore some upward shift could be developing. One key contributor to the rise is that renters’ rents are rising at 3.6 percent and homeowners equivalence rents are rising at 3.1 percent. This high rate is a reflection of housing shortage. Homebuilders are still sluggish in putting up new homes so the shortage and high housing costs will likely continue into 2016.
Based on trends and assumption of no further price declines in gasoline prices in 2016, the overall CPI could surpass 2 percent and possibly reach 3 percent. That means, the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates two or three times in 2016.
On other matters, don’t smoke. Smoke products are rising by 3.7 percent. Those who have suffer smoke related illness, doctor fees are accelerating, now rising by 3.1 percent. For more serious issues, hospital fees are rising even faster at 4.7 percent.
For holiday shopping, women’s apparel prices are lower this year by 3 percent (no price discount on men’s clothes); while electronic products where prices have fallen by 6 percent.
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.