Some more evidence that "the worst economic crisis since the great depression" may be bottoming out.
Consumer prices rose at a higher than expected rate, easing fears that prices would begin to deflate thus tipping the economy completely over and causing a depression:
The cost of living in the U.S. rose more than forecast in February, easing concern that the inflation rate will fall below the Federal Reserve’s preferred level.
The consumer price index rose 0.4 percent after a 0.3 percent increase in January, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Excluding food and fuel, the so-called core rate climbed 0.2 percent for a second month. Fuel, clothing and automobile costs led the advance last month.
The gains last month pushed the annual inflation rate up to 1.8 percent, within the range that most Fed officials define as their objective. Some central bankers, including St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, have warned about the risk of deflation, a pattern of prolonged price declines that would hurt profits, make it harder to repay debt, and worsen the recession.
“It brings some relief to the Fed, they are exactly in the middle of their comfort zone,” said Harm Bandholz, a U.S. economist at UniCredit Research in New York who correctly forecast the rise in the core rate.
Treasuries were little changed after the report, with benchmark 10-year notes yielding 3 percent at 8:52 a.m. in New York. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index fell 0.7 percent to 769.90.
I think it fair to say that we have not hit bottom yet but that the free fall the economy was experiencing in December and January may be braking. The bad news from this report is that wages continued to slide in February and have risen an anemic 2.5% the last year. Real recovery will track not only job gains but wage gains as well which occur when some of the slack in the job market is taken in by rehiring.
As the crisis eases, what does that do to Obama's "opportunity in crisis" meme? Hopefully, he won't be able to scare monger as much which means he will have a harder time getting his programs through an increasingly reluctant Congress. But Obama is ready to unleash his mindless minions to lobby Congress for health care, energy, education, and other "reforms" Obama wants to implement. It remains to be seen how devoted those 3 million names Obama has in his database remain to their dear leader.