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Data: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Consumer prices have been more volatile over the past year than at any point in decades — for good reason.

Why it matters: Congress has tasked the Federal Reserve with ensuring price stability when it comes to consumer prices overall. But the price of a broad basket of goods and services can be pretty steady even if the various components inside that basket are gyrating wildly.

The big picture: It's impossible to have shutdowns, shortages, and a massive reconfiguration of the global economy without significant price disruption, which is exactly what we've seen over the past year.

The intrigue: Because of the complexity of the economy, some of the disruptions can be counterintuitive or unexpected.

  • While the price of pork chops has risen by 11% since January, the price of ham has been flat. And while bananas have fallen in price by 1.3%, fresh fruit excluding bananas, apples and citrus has risen by over 11%.
  • The price of car and truck rentals has had a particularly striking trajectory, falling by 23% between January and May of 2020, and then rising by 61% between May 2020 and March 2021 — for an overall rise of 24%.

The bottom line: There's no indication that price volatility is over. Many of the biggest price moves have taken place in the most recent months.

Go deeper

Biden White House jammed on gas prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden White House increasingly views rising gasoline prices as a source of potential political peril — and is now asking some of the world's biggest oil producers to pump more oil.

Why it matters: This trend, combined with a fragile economic recovery threatened by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and inflation beginning to bite consumers, could threaten the administration's ambitious congressional agenda for late summer and early fall.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.