Among the many disconcerting leaps of logic taken by the federal government is the omission of food and fuel prices from its measures of the consumer price index — inflation. Somehow that doesn’t ease the bottom-line purchasing pain at the grocery store and the gas pump.
OK, so as of Friday, the average price of a gallon of regular had fallen by more than 30 cents over the last month.
Still, that was more than 6 cents higher than it was on that date a year ago — and nearly double what it was in early 2008.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that food inflation this year ranged from a mere 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
Gee, it sure seems higher.
Many Americans fairly suspect that what they have seen as a troubling climb in both food and gasoline costs over the last few years continues to boost other prices, despite the official inflation count.
That widespread public concern, however, isn’t shared by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. In a Tuesday speech to the Economic Club of New York, he again defended his plans to pump (i.e., print) more money into the economy — and again insisted that the traditional inflation risk of such action doesn’t apply in this case.
Chairman Bernanke explained: “As is often the case, inflation has been pushed up and down in recent years by fluctuations in the price of crude oil and other globally traded commodities, including the increase in farm prices brought on by this summer’s drought. But with longer-term inflation expectations remaining stable, the ebbs and flows in commodity prices have had only transitory effects on inflation.”
Too bad the sticker shock for sustenance and fuel, despite federal assurances to the contrary, seems so far from “transitory.”