Top Democratic economist calls out Biden administration for downplaying inflation crisis… Wholesale prices measure rises 9.6%; Fastest pace on record…Fed expected to take very big step toward first rate hike…

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Democratic economist Larry Summers, who served as treasury secretary for Bill Clinton and a top adviser to Barack Obama, spoke out against the Biden administration on Monday for its narrative about the inflation crisis.

What is the background?
The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the consumer price index “rose 6.8% for the 12 months ending October, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982.”

November also marked the sixth consecutive month in which year-over-year inflation remained above 5%, meaning Americans are paying significantly more across the board for goods and services.

What did Summers say?
The economic expert knocked the Biden administration for downplaying the seriousness of inflation problems.

“I cannot understand why so many in Admin & out cling to the idea that inflation is caused by bottlenecks & will soon recede to normal levels. Of course there is uncertainty but the idea that inflation will revert soon to levels anywhere near Fed’s target looks like a long shot,” Summers said.

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Wholesale prices increased at their quickest pace ever in November in the latest sign that the inflation pressures bedeviling the economy are still present, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

The producer price index for final demand products increased 9.6% over the previous 12 months after rising another 0.8% in November. Economists had been looking for an annual gain of 9.2%, according to FactSet.

Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.7% for the month, putting core PPI at 6.9%, also the largest gain on record. Estimates were for respective gains of 0.4% and 7.2%, meaning the monthly gain was faster than estimates but the year-over-year measure was a bit slower.

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The Federal Reserve is expected to announce a dramatic policy shift Wednesday that will clear the way for a first interest rate hike next year.

Markets are anticipating the Fed will speed up the wind-down of its bond buying program, changing the end date to March from June.

That would free the central bank to start raising interest rates from zero, and Fed officials are expected to release a new forecast showing two to three interest rate hikes in 2022 and another three to four in 2023. Previously, there had been no consensus for a rate hike in 2022, though half of the Fed officials expected at least one.



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