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A '90s fashion renaissance in the last couple of years has brought back the coolest trendsetters outfitted in once-forgotten bumbags, chokers, pastel silky slip dresses, tattered jeans, and Doc Martens.
On Wednesday, one of the more unpleasant relics of that grungier era reared its ugly face: inflation levels not seen since 1990. Consumer prices in the US were 6.2% higher in October than they were a year ago, the Labor Department announced. Maybe Universal should rerelease Nevermind with the baby on the cover chasing a $5 bill.
High levels of inflation, originally dismissed by some economists as a blip, have been annoyingly persistent this year. It's been five straight months of 5%+ year-on-year consumer price increases, driven by a lightspeed-but-uneven economic recovery from the pandemic. Trillions of dollars in stimulus, low-interest rates, and strong household wealth have created strong demand and boosted prices, especially when coupled with global supply chain bottlenecks.
According to the Labor Department, the latest inflation hit just about everywhere — new and used cars, furniture, rent, and healthcare all got more expensive in October. The only things that got cheaper were airline fares and alcohol, so book a holiday and grab a mojito after you've finished reading these other important details:
- The core price index, a figure that leaves out volatile food and energy prices, climbed 4.6% in October from a year earlier, the most since 1991. That's the clearest confirmation that the cost of living is overheating.
- Food cost 5.3% more than a year ago — meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are up 11.9% — while fuel oil prices are up a whopping 59.1% in the past year and overall energy prices are up 30%.
Here, There, Everywhere: Last month, China's producer price index, which measures inflation at the point of manufacturing, rose 13.5%, the most in 26 years, and in Brazil, year-over-year inflation accelerated to a shocking 10.67%.
Interest-ing Times: There will now be pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates or speed up its tapering of stimulus. A longer-term solution could be technology: Morgan Stanley data shows that, excluding short-term jumps, commodity prices have been going down for 200 years because every time an energy source becomes too expensive, a new one gets invented (cue renewables).