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US Inflation near 10% if old measure is used

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Inflation is still calculated using a “market basket” to determine prices. But since 1980, other factors have been added to reflect a changing economy.

Still, it might be useful to measure today’s rate of inflation using 1979 methods. CNBC’s Fast Money gives us the bad news:

“Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter.

Since 1980, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed the way it calculates the CPI in order to account for the substitution of products, improvements in quality (i.e. iPad 2 costing the same as original iPad) and other things. Backing out more methods implemented in 1990 by the BLS still puts inflation at a 5.5 percent rate and getting worse, according to the calculations by the newsletter’s web site, Shadowstats.com.

“Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate,” said John Williams, creator of the site, in a new note out Tuesday. “Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem. Until such time as financial-market expectations catch up with underlying reality, reportinggenerally will continue to show higher-than-expected inflation and weaker-than-expected economic results in the month and months ahead.”

The pay-site and newsletter by Williams, an economic consultant for the last 30 years to companies, has gained a cult following among bloggers hungry to criticize Bernanke these days. The mission statement of the newsletter, according to the site, is to expose and analyze “flaws in current U.S. government economic data and reporting…net of financial-market and political hype.”

You don’t have to be an expert to know that inflation is beginning to bite. Anyone who shops at a grocery store knows the truth. Food prices are skyrocketing out of control – especially produce, meat, and dairy products.

Our grocery bill per month has gone from around $400 to near $600 since last summer. Gas has gone from near $3 a gallon to $4.40 and climbing. You can’t hide the rising cost of things that everybody buys on a regular basis.

Analysts predict a March CPI (coming out Friday) of 2.6% That might be the average, but you and I know that we are on the cusp of an inflation event that, unless the Fed stops pretending that inflation is undercontrol, lord knows where we’ll be by the end of the summer.


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