Official inflation expectations have hit their highest levels since recording began in 2013.
According to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the June 2021 “Survey of Consumer Expectations” reveals that median one-year inflation expectations climbed to 4.8% — a 0.8% increase since last month.
In January, February, March, April, and May, one-year expectations were respectively 3.0%, 3.1%, 3.2%, 3.4%, and 4.0% — implying that anticipated inflation has progressively increased since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, three-year inflation expectations — currently at 3.5% — have remained essentially unchanged since last month, though they have also increased from January levels.
While the outlook for the next three years remained unchanged at 3.6%, that is still well above the 2% level that the Fed considers healthy for a growing economy.
Central bank officials have been insistent that the recent inflation spike won’t last. They projected at their June meeting that their preferred gauge would show a 3% gain in 2021 but then recede to 2.1% in subsequent years and settle around the target range thereafter.
Economists have grown increasingly concerned that the Federal Reserve is failing to properly manage price levels. Although rising inflation is typical of an economic recovery, the central bank has not yet tapered its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases — a move creating what many experts see as an overabundance of cash in the American economy.
As The Wall Street Journal reported on July 11:
Americans should brace themselves for several years of higher inflation than they’ve seen in decades, according to economists who expect the robust post-pandemic economic recovery to fuel brisk price increases for a while.
Economists surveyed this month by The Wall Street Journal raised their forecasts of how high inflation would go and for how long, compared with their previous expectations in April. The respondents on average now expect a widely followed measure of inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy components, to be up 3.2% in the fourth quarter of 2021 from a year before. They forecast the annual rise to recede to slightly less than 2.3% a year in 2022 and 2023.
“Inflation is expected to surge longer and longer — longer than the Fed previously thought,” said Grant Thornton chief economist Diane Swonk. “The Fed is now likely to raise rates in the first half of 2023, although some Fed presidents will be nipping at the bit to move sooner.”
“The danger is that monetary authorities are behind the curve,” added American Chemistry Council chief economist Kevin Swift. “I’m not saying hyperinflation is around the corner, just that a lot of things have come together in the last year, and the overall trend of costs across the board is growing faster than in the last five or 10 years.”
Last month, economists at Deutsche Bank similarly defected from Wall Street consensus to declare that the world is “sitting on a time bomb” due to central bankers’ dovish approaches toward inflation.