There was “zero inflation last month,” President Joe Biden triumphantly exclaimed on Wednesday. “It underscores the kind of economy we’ve been building.” A few economists shared Biden’s ebullience over the news. “Holy cow,” University of Michigan Professor Justin Wolfers marveled. “There was ZERO inflation last month.” Bloomberg analyst Joe Weisenthal agreed. “Inflation was 0% in July, and we added 500,000 jobs in the month,” he wrote, “and there are people who are insisting we call it a recession.” Because “our economy had 0% inflation in July” and gasoline prices are declining precipitously, White House Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre noted, “American families with two cars [save] $106 per month on average.”
In fact, inflation as measured by the rising cost of consumer goods grew at a marginally slower pace in July than it did in June. Last month, the consumer-price index (CPI), which measures the cost of consumer goods, rose by 8.5 percent from a year ago. That’s down from June’s 9.1 percent annualized increase, true enough. And if you exclude goods that are subject to fluctuating prices like food and energy—so-called “core CPI”—prices increased by 0.3 percent last month. While “core CPI” is nearly 6 percent higher than it was last year, it increased in July at the slowest pace since March. That’s a welcome relief, albeit a marginal one.
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