Inflation Watch: Rents Grows Faster Than Income For The 22nd Straight Month

Rents didn’t triple like the price of butter in France, but lowering one’s standard of living via substitution isn’t as simple as just switching apartments as needed…

Here’s what’s been going on with rent via Bloomberg:

If it feels like the rent keeps going up, you’re not alone: The share of U.S. disposable income that went toward such spending totaled 3.81 percent in the third quarter, marking the highest share in data going back almost six decades.

Rising shelter costs have accounted for most of the inflation in the U.S. during this economic expansion. While part of the rising rental share of spending may result from falling homeownership in recent years, the price index for rental of tenant-occupied nonfarm housing rose 3.7 percent in the year through September, according to data published Monday by the Commerce Department, near the fastest pace seen in the last decade.

Here’s the data releases just today on income:

Core inflation remains lifeless in an unwanted highlight of an otherwise solid income and spending report. Personal income rose 0.4 percent in September and was underpinned by wages & salaries which also rose 0.4 percent. Consumer spending jumped 1.0 percent driven by a 2.1 percent surge in durable goods that was tied to vehicle replacement following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

But the rise in income and spending didn’t heat up ex-food ex-gas core inflation which posted a marginal 0.1 percent gain. This is the 5th straight 0.1 percent gain for this key reading. The core’s year-on-year rate has been stuck at a rock bottom 1.3 percent for the last two months. Total inflation, reflecting a hurricane-related gain for energy prices, rose 0.4 percent with this year-on-year rate rising 2 tenths to 1.6 percent.

But the pressure on energy prices has already faded and unless wage pressures can extend their emerging gains, inflation readings are not going to be climbing in the direction of the Federal Reserve 2 percent goal. Also helping spending in September was a sharp 5 tenths decline in the savings rate to 3.1 percent and a 10-year low in what, however, is likely to be another hurricane effect that will be quickly reversed.

At least we are not feeling the effects of skyrocketing butter prices:

According to Bloombergglobal butter prices have almost tripled to 7,000 euros ($8,144) a ton from 2,500 euros in 2016, according to Agritel, an Paris-based farming consultancy. In Europe, prices peaked at about 6,500 euros a ton in September, the highest since the European Commission began collecting such data in 2000…The problem can be traced to the end of (EU) milk-production quotas in April 2015 that led to a glut early last year in Europe, and a drastic drop in prices. This prompted production cuts by spring this year. The reduction coincided with other global milk products exporters curbing their own output: the U.S. stopped selling abroad to address higher domestic demand while New Zealand, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, experienced lower production due to droughts, Pierre Begoc, an Agritel analyst, said in a phone interview.