Jul 12, 2022 - Economy

This time inflation might have really peaked

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

June's Consumer Price Index is set to be released Wednesday, with Wall Street (and the White House) braced for yet another hot number. But signs are emerging that inflation may soon peak — if it hasn't already.

  • In the spring, the economy did a head fake and inflation kept heading higher, when we thought it was about to go lower.

Why it matters: Inflation has been pummeling the economy, wiping out wage gains, and draining the wallets of consumers, which had grown fatter since the pandemic's worst days.

  • May's 8.6% year-over-year increase was the highest monthly jump since December 1981.

State of play: Bloomberg and MarketWatch are predicting that inflation rose to 8.8% in June.

But, but, but: We have a several reasons to hope that June — or maybe even May — may have been the last increase in CPI.

  • Declining energy prices, including gasoline, which has fallen four straight weeks to a national average of $4.66 on Tuesday, according to AAA. That's down from a record high of $5.02 on June 14.
  • A flurry of discounts among retailers such as Target, which signaled last month that it had piled up a glut of inventory, are also providing consumers with much-needed relief.
  • In e-commerce, prices fell 1% from May to June, marking the third straight month of declines, according to Adobe's Digital Index. Consumers are hunting for more deals in July with Amazon's Prime Day sales bonanza which began today.
  • Domestic airfares "appear to have declined in both June and July," according to JPMorgan Funds chief global strategist David Kelly.
  • And used vehicle prices fell 1.3% in June, according to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index.

Yes, but: Have you seen your credit card statement lately? It's still rough out there — and it's not likely to go away quickly, even as concerns about a slowing economy exert downward pressure on prices.

  • "Inflation rates will likely cool throughout this year, but the cool down period will be long and slow," according to a report published Tuesday by LPL Financial.

Be smart: Gas prices have an outsized impact on inflation, so any downward momentum may boost consumer spending, or at least their frame of mind.

  • The Producer Price Index — which measures wholesale costs — indicated that 40% of its May increase was attributable to gasoline.
  • Meanwhile, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude plunged more than 7% on Tuesday, to less than $97 per barrel.

The bottom line: While June's CPI rate could be higher than May's, the end (hopefully) draws nigh.

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