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Claims made by Federal Reserve leaders and the Biden administration (along with Yours Truly) that current lofty levels of U.S. inflation are transitory took another hit this morning with the Commerce Department’s release of the October figures for the Personal Consumption Exepnditures (PCE) price indices.

For some reason, these data don’t get the same attention as the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), but they should, since they’re the Fed’s inflation gauge of choice, and the Fed’s power to control inflation (or not) through monetary so profoundly influences the cost of credit, and therefore how fast or slowly the economy grows.

And the new PCE numbers show that between September and October, monthly and yearly price increases regained momentum that had previously showed signs of waning. Let’s go the statistics lists (an economist’s version of “Let’s go to the videotape”). First, the year’s monthly percentage changes in overalll PCE inflation:

Jan.             0.3

Feb.            0.3

March         0.6

April           0.6

May            0.5

June            0.5

July            0.4

Aug.           0.4

Sept.           0.4

Oct.            0.6

Moreover, not only is the October increase back to the previous peaks in March and April, but the August and September results were each revised up from 0.3 percent.

As you can see from the next list, the same kind of pick up can be seen in overall PCE inflation rates on a year-on-year basis. And these percentage canges are more important than the monthly changes because they measure the trend over a longer period of time, and also smooth out the kind of fluctuations that can pop up for random reasons in the short term. Just FYI, the July result was revised down from 4.2 percent.

Jan.              1.4

Feb.             1.6

March          2.5

April            3.6

May             4.0

June             4.0

July              4.1

Aug.             4.2

Sept.             4.4

Oct.              5.0

The monthly core inflation figures strip out food and energy prices – because they can be volatile for reasons like weather, and foreign oil cartels, that have nothing to do with the economy’s underlying proneness to price increases (or decreases). They’ve been somewhat lower in absolute terms than the overall PCE monthly increases. In October, moreover, though they doubled over the September rate, they’re still lower than the price rises recorded in spring and early summer. But that doubling snapped a five-month streak of stabilization or declines. Here are these percentage changes.

Jan.              0.2

Feb.             0.1

March         0.4

April           0.6

May            0.6

June            0.5

July             0.3

Aug.            0.3

Sept.           0.2

Oct.            0.4

As for the year-on-year core percentage changes, they’ve arguably been worse momentum-wise than their monthly counterparts because they’d shown no signs of decline through September. Now they’ve become worse still with the jump to 4.1 percent in October (the biggest such surge in decades). And September’s rate has been revised up from 3.6 percent.

Jan.             1.5

Feb.            1.5

March        2.0

April          3.1

May           3.5

June           3.5

July            3.6

Aug.          3.6

Sept.          3.7

Oct.           4.1

My gut still tells me that current inflation will be transitory – and in some meaningful sense, not because “nothing lasts forever except death and taxes.” That’s because the CCP Virus-era economy is still so downright weird, and because its disruptions – along with the current severity of the disease – are bound to at least calm down at some point in the foreseeable future.

But the new numbers revealing new inflation momentum are telling the opposite story, and their importance is all the more impressive for basically matching the trends shown by the CPI figures. So the burden of proof on inflation’s future has definitely shifted to the shoulders of the transitory-istas.