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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The core Consumer Price Index, the measure of the price of goods and services excluding food and energy, increased 0.5% in November, according to data released Friday.

Driving the news: The headline CPI figure, which measures the price of all items, rose 6.8% over the last 12 months, marking the biggest jump in 39 years.

  • Overall prices rose .8% for the month, higher than the .7% increase expected by economists, according to Fact Set.
  • The 0.5% monthly increase for the core CPI is aligned with economist predictions for a 0.5% uptick.

Between the lines: Energy prices rose 33.3% since November of last year, including a 3.5% increase in November.

  • Gasoline prices alone also rose, with a 6.1% increase in November (the same increase as in October) and a 58.1% increase over the last 12 months.
  • The price indexes for rent also rose 0.4% in November compared with the month before.

The big picture: Friday's data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes after the inflation reading from last month revealed that price gains were picking up steam faster than expected.

  • Overall prices in October were up 6.2% from a year prior.

President Biden in a statement on Friday said: "Today’s numbers reflect the pressures that economies around the world are facing as we emerge from a global pandemic — prices are rising."

  • "But developments in the weeks after these data were collected last month show that price and cost increase are slowing, although not as quickly as we’d like," he added.
  • "The challenge of prices underscores the importance that Congress move without delay to pass my Build Back Better plan, which lowers how much families pay for health care, prescription drugs, child care, and more."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Kate Marino: A hot inflation reading was largely expected — but the 6.8% headline increase was a tick higher than the 6.7% expected, per FactSet.

  • Though many economists still expect the monthly gains to moderate during the first half of next year, today's print will amp up the pressure on the Federal Reserve to act faster to cool growth when its committee meets next week.
  • Likely on the Fed's agenda for the meeting: a discussion of more quickly tapering its bond market purchases, which began as an emergency market support mechanism at the outset of the pandemic. Once the taper is concluded, officials may begin the process of raising interest rates from their current rock bottom levels.

What they're saying: "Inflationary pressures are building in the economy and that is going to force the Fed’s hand," wrote Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, in a note.

Go deeper ... CPI: The new jobs number

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from President Biden.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Jan 14, 2022 - Economy & Business

Record level consumer demand drops as high prices surge

Data: FRED; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Record levels of consumer demand are petering out as high prices cut into wages and add to household worries.

Why it matters: Shoppers will hold off on buying if goods get too expensive — a trend that if big enough could slow down economic growth.

What Biden's Fed nominations mean for policy

Sarah Bloom Raskin at a 2013 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Getty Images

Now that President Biden's long-awaited nominations for vacant seats on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors have dropped, the big question is how Sarah Bloom Raskin, Lisa Cook, and Philip Jefferson, if confirmed, might shift policy.

  • The answer: Don't expect any big changes to the central bank's policy direction overnight — but do expect it to prioritize a healthy labor market more in the years ahead.

Why it matters: The Fed's actions shape the economy in ways that outlast the presidents who appoint them — and the Biden-appointed Fed looks to be a more explicitly pro-worker central bank than we've seen in modern times.

The big picture: With inflation running hot, the Fed is in the midst of a pivot to more hawkish monetary policy — possibly including raising interest rates in March.

  • Raskin, Cook, and Jefferson are unlikely to stand in the way of that pivot, and not just because the slow-moving Senate confirmation process means it will likely be well underway before they are confirmed for their new jobs.
  • The Fed is a consensus-driven institution, and the consensus has swung decisively in a hawkish direction in the last three months. Even normally-dovish officials like San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Chicago Fed president Charles Evans on board with the policy shift.

But over time, the new additions to the Board of Governors — who have a permanent vote on monetary policy, unlike regional Fed presidents who rotate — have emphasized the importance of running a hot labor market in order to achieve gains for workers and greater racial equality.

  • That implies the three new governors would resist continuing to push interest rates higher once inflation moderates.

What they're saying: "Inflation is so high and political pressures on the Fed are so strong (including from Democrats), that we doubt they will push hard against the will of the committee," wrote Roberto Perli and Benson Durham of Cornerstone Macro, in a client note.

  • But, they add, "Because all of them have expressed views in favor of broader expansion of the labor market, … we can expect them to resist substantial tightening in the future."

Regulatory policy is a different matter. If confirmed as vice chair for supervision — and Republican Senators will try to stop that from happening — Raskin would have more explicit power over a wide range of regulatory policy, and look to rein in the deregulatory impulses of her predecessor, Trump appointee Randal Quarles.

The bottom line: As the Biden Fed takes shape, it will include more voices focused on workers than in modern memory. But the course of policy depends on whether inflation trends allow them to act on those instincts.

Jan 13, 2022 - Health

The cost of testing

Expand chart
Note: Prices vary within countries. France and Malaysia prices reflect legal price caps. Data: Axios research; Chart: Axios Visuals

The average cost of a single at-home rapid COVID test is about $12 in the U.S., more than twice the cost of a test in France and more than three times as much as in India.

The big picture: Places like Canada and the U.K. make tests available for free.

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