Food Price Surges Not Yet Leading to Core Inflation, Says Sonders

While food and other commodity prices have been rising sharply in recent months, Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders says the threat of that leading to generalized inflation remains low for now.

“Rising food and energy prices do have an economic impact as they act as a tax on the consumer, which drains discretionary spending power,” Sonders writes in her latest commentary on Schwab’s site. “But as long as wage and unit labor cost growth is in check, there is unlikely to be widespread ability to pass along rising input costs to the end consumer. Rising commodity prices can’t create pricing power where it didn’t exist before.”

Sonders says that while the Federal Reserve has pumped huge amounts of money into the system in the past couple years, much of that money remains stuck in the pipes, in a sense.

“In reality, all that developed world central banks have accomplished is to free up reserves in their banking systems, little of which is getting passed through the lending channels to feed into the economy,” she says.

Sonders lays out why “core” inflation is more likely to impact emerging markets than the U.S., both socially and economically, and she examines what would be needed to trigger significant widespread inflation in the U.S.

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