Rents are falling, contrary to Consumer Price Index data
Why it matters: The slowdown in rents isn't yet showing up in the monthly inflation data. By the CPI's measure — also out Thursday — rents were up 0.8% in September.
- The difference, as Axios has written, is that the private-market data from the real estate companies covers new rental contracts only; while CPI captures rents more broadly.
- "Housing is now the most important driver of inflation," noted former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers earlier this week.
The intrigue: It could take as long as a year for the CPI data to reflect this deceleration, according to research published by the Labor Department last week and tweeted by Summers.
- The authors of the paper conclude that taking a broader measure of rents, as the CPI does, is the right way to understand price growth — but when it comes to monetary policy they're less sure.
- They seem to imply the Fed might need to watch the private market data to get a sense of where inflation is right now and react accordingly.
The bottom line: As Pantheon Macroeconomics' chief economist Ian Shepherdson said yesterday, "Evidence of falling inflation is everywhere except in the inflation data."