President Biden and White House officials are expected to come under renewed pressure on Wednesday as the latest Consumer Price Index is expected to show another decades-high inflation reading for the month of June.

Economists expect the Labor Department’s latest CPI reading to hit 8.8% compared to the same month one year earlier, according to Dow Jones data.

That would mark the fastest pace of increase since 1981 as Americans pay abnormally high prices for everyday staples such as gas, food and rent.

White House officials made a preemptive attempt at damage control ahead of the release.

Top Biden economic officials Brian Deese and Cecilia Rouse noted the data “will largely not reflect the substantial declines in gas prices we’ve seen since the middle of June,” according to a memo circulated to reporters Tuesday and obtained by MarketWatch.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged during her briefing Monday that the “headline number” for June’s CPI reading was expected to be “highly elevated” due to gas prices last month.

Karine Jean-Pierre
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said June’s reading would be “highly elevated.”
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“The President’s number one economic priority is tackling inflation. And looking ahead, there are a number of reasons why we expect those high prices to ease over the coming months,’ Jean-Pierre said.

Republican lawmakers and other critics have repeatedly slammed Biden over his handling of the inflation crisis, arguing his policies and failed efforts to date have contributed to the problem. Decades-high inflation readings have weighed on Biden’s approval rating.

President Biden
President Biden is under pressure to bring down prices.
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Inflation has raised the price of most grocery store items and produce.
Inflation has raised the price of most grocery store items and produce.
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Meanwhile, the White House has largely attributed the higher prices to the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — with Biden often referring to the increases as “Putin’s price hike.”

The president’s assertion has been widely panned by critics, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell among those who have dismissed the idea that the Ukraine war is the primary driver.

Gas prices have indeed shown signs of improvement in recent days. The national average sat at $4.655 per gallon on Tuesday, down from an all-time record of $5.016 per gallon on June 14, according to AAA data.

But another brutal inflation reading would add even more urgency on the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates despite fears of tipping the economy into a recession.

The Fed raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a percentage point last month after the May CPI showed inflation at 8.6%. The rate hike was the Fed’s sharpest increase since 1994 and a similar increase is expected when central bank officials meet this month.

“The recent string of year-over-year increases in inflation has been stunning,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said.

Brian Deese
White House economic officials, including NEC chief Brian Deese, have largely blamed inflation on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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“Even when the peak of inflation is eventually seen in the rearview mirror, it seems unlikely that we will have moved past the point of concern about high prices,” Hamrick added.June CPI data has White House on defensive

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