The Consumer Price Index (CPI) basically measures the monthly change in prices paid by United States consumers. As per Kavan Choksi, the BLS or Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the CPI as a weighted average of prices for a collection of goods and services representative of aggregate U.S. consumer spending. The CPI is among the most widely popular measures of deflation and inflation. Varying types of price samples, index weights and survey methodologies are used for the CPI report.
Kavan Choksi provides an introduction to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Two indexes are published by BLS each month. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) is known to represent 93% of the U.S. population not living in remote rural areas. It does not cover spending by people living in institutions, farm households or even military bases. CPI-U tends to be the basis of the extensively reported CPI numbers that matter to financial markets. Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is also published by BLS. It covers 29% of the U.S. population living in households with income derived majorly from clerical employment or jobs with an hourly wage.
The CPI is among the most commonly used tools for measuring inflation and deflation. Inflation is a vital indicator of the health of an economy. Central banks and governments generally use the CPI and other indices to make smart economic decisions, to raise or lower interest rates being among the most important ones. Higher interest rates make borrowing funds more expensive. They provide emphasis on pushing down consumer spending – and, in turn, inflation. On the other hand, lower interest rates are meant to encourage consumer spending, and keep inflation in line with a country’s target
The Consumer Price Index is also to guide wage adjustments in line with the cost of living. This helps in measuring people’s eligibility for benefits like social security. CPI data also aids economists in measuring the total value of goods and services produced by an economy, with the impact of inflation stripped out.
According to Kavan Choksi, the CPI data is used by the Feds to determine economic policy. With a target inflation rate of 2%, the Fed might enact expansionary monetary policy for the purpose of stimulating the economy should market growth slow. They may also enact contractionary monetary policy should the economy grow too fast.
Mortgage rates and other forms of long-term debt are commonly impacted by the rates set by government agencies. When the CPI goes up and the government enacts policy changes to slow inflation, these rates typically increase. Landlords may utilize the CPI information to effectively assess what annual rent increases for renters must be.
Financial market prices are driven by several factors, CPI being one of them. After all, reactionary Fed policies do impact consumer spending ability, corporate profits and economic growth directly. Higher CPI commonly implies that a less stringent government policy is in place. Hence, debts are much easier to obtain at affordable rates, and individuals have improved spending capacity. Conversely, lower or decreasing CPI can indicate that the government may ease policy that helps boost the economy.a