Jun 7, 2024 - News

📈 Chat du jour: "Inflation" doesn't mean what it used to

Line chart showing the change in the Consumer Price Index in the Boston metro area. In March 2024, the year-over-year change was +17.09% and the cumulative change since January 2021 was +3.31%.
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The meaning of the word "inflation" has changed, writes Axios Markets' Felix Salmon. It used to mean rising prices; now it means high prices.

Why it matters: Pedants, economists, and style-guide editors might not like it, but if you want to understand what people mean when they complain about inflation, you need to understand how the vernacular has evolved over the past couple of years.

The big picture: Inflation, at least as officially measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has come down sharply from its peak of 9% in mid-2022. It now stands at 3.4%, broadly in line with where it was for the quarter-century between 1983 and 2008.

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