February CPI: Experts say inflation numbers will be high

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its February Consumer Price Index, a key report gauging inflation in the U.S. and experts NewsNation spoke to expect the numbers will continue to be high.

“The way we report the inflation is a backward looking twelve months, so we already know what eleven of the twelve months of the last year’s inflation were and they were definitely high, so there’s no way it could not be high,” said University of Chicago economics professor Austan Goolsbee, a Wednesday guest of “On Balance With Leland Vittert.”

Last month, the Consumer Price Index showed prices rose 7.5% compared with 12 months earlier, the steepest year-over-year increase since February 1982.

While it’s too soon to know how President Joe Biden’s economic sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin will impact inflation in the United States, Goolsbee expects Americans will be more understanding if inflation is the result of a worthy cause.

“To the extent that there is inflation that is correlated with standing up to someone like Vladimir Putin, I think people are a lot less angry about price increases like that than they are about just general inflation,” Goolsbee said.

A recent NewsNation poll found most Americans, 65%, are willing to endure some pain at the pump if it helps stop Putin. Although gas prices have been rising for weeks, respondents were asked that question before Biden’s announcement Tuesday that Russian oil would no longer be accepted at U.S. ports.

On Wednesday, gas prices hit their highest point in American history as the average price for a gallon of gasoline reached a record $4.25, according to AAA.

Goolsbee said certain public prices have an outsized impact on consumers’ perception of inflation and gas prices are one of them.

Getting control of inflation continues to be the top priority for American voters, something Biden is all too aware of and acknowledged in his recent State of the Union address.

The new data Thursday is unlikely to do the president’s approval rating any favors, even as Americans broadly support his economic sanctions against Russia.

“It’s always the case that the incumbent president at the first midterm has a tough go of it … so I don’t think that’s going to be any different than what it’s going to be this coming year,” Goolsbee said.

When could we start seeing better inflation numbers?

“I think the best case scenario is that the new months by the summer would start to slow down,” Goolsbee said.

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