Economist Reaction to Latest Inflation Data

Year-over-year consumer inflation in July was 8.5 percent, down from 9.1 percent in June. The month-over-month inflation was zero percent, though that was largely the result of a 4.6 percent drop in energy prices. Roger Cryan, American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist, says inflation remains a concern.

“Food prices were almost 11 percent above last year and up over one percent just in the one month, and that will continue to be an issue as demand is high and will remain high, and farmers around the world are challenged by things like drought and high fuel and fertilizer prices, and, not to mention, the war in Ukraine. The Federal Reserve Bank pumped a lot of dollars into the economy in 2020-2021. And now the Fed is raising interest rates and selling assets to soak up some of those dollars. We’re going to see headline inflation in the five percent to nine percent range well into 2024.”

Cryan says the economy remains strong, but the market remains weary.

“Job vacancies are a little bit lower than they were a couple months ago, but they’re still way above pre-2021 levels. There’s ten million job vacancies in the in the U.S. economy right now. That means there’s still a lot of demand in the economy. But we have a strong narrative in the market that says if the Fed raises rates, recession will happen and that narrative is driving an overreaction and that overreaction could drive a continuing recession.”

Cryan says there are some silver linings for farmers and ranchers.

“A recession doesn’t help farmers, but commodity prices are still relatively high and if fuel and fertilizer prices keep dropping, that would be a big help. And the Fed’s serious attack now, finally, on inflation, I think is helping to restore faith in the market that inflation isn’t going to be a long-term issue. So, we’re already seeing long-term interest rates start to drop, which is very helpful for farmers when they’re looking to invest, and short-term interest rates will come down once inflation has been beat, that could take a couple of years.”

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