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What Do We Actually Pay, Day-To-Day? It May Be More Than The Fed Tells Us

A new study reports a big disconnect between government reports about price increases and what you pay in the real world.

The report from the American Institute for Economic Research shows everyday prices rising 8 percent last year, versus the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics official Consumer Price Index of 3.1 percent. Institute Economist Steven Cunningham says the BLS measures a lot of goods and services that people just do not buy very often, or whose prices don’t change very often.

The Fed factors in such items as homes and vehicles which contractually remain at a fixed price level for many of us.  It’s important to think separately about day-to-day purchasing power and the broader long-term cost of living,” Cunningham points out.  “Over the course of a year, the price of hamburger or a pound of coffee may change dramatically. But a car or house payment doesn’t.”  Housing, big-ticket items such as appliances, furniture and cars, and irregularly purchased goods, such as computers and other information technology, are excluded from the EPI, or Everyday Price Index.

Cunningham says in the longer run, the Fed’s average inflation rate is 2.9 percent.  But his measure of prices is higher, 3.6 percent.

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