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Producer Price Index, April 2007-2017

The Producer Price Index (PPI) is a weighted index of prices measured at the wholesale, or producer level. A monthly release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the PPI shows trends within the wholesale markets (the PPI was once called the Wholesale Price Index), manufacturing industries and commodities markets. All of the physical goods-producing industries that make up the U.S. economy are included, but imports are not.

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Producer Price Index for All Commodities [PPIACO], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PPIACO, May 11, 2017.

Capitalism Is Violence

"United Airlines violently removed a passenger from an airplane earlier this week. The company had overbooked the flight, which is standard practice in the airline industry, and then failed to entice enough people to give up their seats by offering as much as $800 to anyone who would volunteer. The final solution to the conundrum of too many passengers and not enough seats was to demand certain passengers give up their seats. When one man refused, he was forced out."

"The video of the event, which showed the man being beaten and bloodied by the police, went viral and attracted nearly universal condemnation. But the condemnation that I’ve seen so far is very unclear about what the problem is. The video is violent and repulsive, but only insofar as all property and contract enforcement is. The forceful removal of the passenger is not an extraordinary aberration from our civilized capitalist order. Rather, it is an example of the everyday violence (and threatened violence) that keeps that capitalist order running."

Real (Inflation-Adjusted) Gross Domestic Product, 1929-2016

This interactive graph shows the real gross domestic product of the United States, inflation adjusted from 1929 through 2016. This graph shows that America is roughly 15% wealthier then in 2009, and 28% wealthier then in 2000. While it can be argued over the fairness of current wealth distribution patterns, and while per capita wealth has grown at a slower rate, it is clear that America has seen a dramatic growth of it's total wealth over recent years.

Data Source: https://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=9&step=1#reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=1929&903=3&906=a&905=2016&910=x&911=0

Trump Administration Files Motion Aimed At Controlling Consumer Protection Agency

"The Trump administration has gone to court to try to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under its control. The bureau is an executive branch entity, but the president doesn't have direct control over the six-year-old agency.

The Justice Department filed a brief with a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday, making the case that the structure of the agency violates the Constitution."

Federal Funds Target Rate, 1982-Present

The federal funds rate has fallen to historic levels after the recession, but continues to inch upwards as the economy recovers. During the recession, the FED rate was to a target of 0 to 0.25 (they set a lower and upper range, because they wanted to get the target rate as close to zero without causing a negative rate and deflation).

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Federal Funds Target Rate (DISCONTINUED) [DFEDTAR], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DFEDTAR, March 15, 2017.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Federal Funds Target Range - Upper Limit [DFEDTARU], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DFEDTARU, March 15, 2017.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Federal Funds Target Range - Lower Limit [DFEDTARL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DFEDTARL, March 15, 2017.

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items

This graph shows the change in the Consumer Price Index for each month compared to one year ago, the same month.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items (CPIAUCSL) is a measure of the average monthly change in the price for goods and services paid by urban consumers between any two time periods.(1) It can also represent the buying habits of urban consumers. This particular index includes roughly 88 percent of the total population, accounting for wage earners, clerical workers, technical workers, self-employed, short-term workers, unemployed, retirees, and those not in the labor force.(1)

The CPIs are based on prices for food, clothing, shelter, and fuels; transportation fares; service fees (e.g., water and sewer service); and sales taxes. Prices are collected monthly from about 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 retail establishments across 87 urban areas.(1) To calculate the index, price changes are averaged with weights representing their importance in the spending of the particular group. The index measures price changes (as a percent change) from a predetermined reference date.(1) In addition to the original unadjusted index distributed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also releases a seasonally adjusted index. The unadjusted series reflects all factors that may influence a change in prices. However, it can be very useful to look at the seasonally adjusted CPI, which removes the effects of seasonal changes, such as weather, school year, production cycles, and holidays.(1)

The CPI can be used to recognize periods of inflation and deflation. Significant increases in the CPI within a short time frame might indicate a period of inflation, and significant decreases in CPI within a short time frame might indicate a period of deflation. However, because the CPI includes volatile food and oil prices, it might not be a reliable measure of inflationary and deflationary periods. For a more accurate detection, the core CPI (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items Less Food & Energy [CPILFESL]) is often used. When using the CPI, please note that it is not applicable to all consumers and should not be used to determine relative living costs.(1) Additionally, the CPI is a statistical measure vulnerable to sampling error since it is based on a sample of prices and not the complete average.(1)

For more information on the consumer price indexes, see:
(1) Bureau of Economic Analysis. “CPI Detailed Report.” 2013; http://www.bls.gov/cpi/.
Handbook of Methods - (http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/pdf/homch17.pdf)
Understanding the CPI: Frequently Asked Questions - (http://stats.bls.gov:80/cpi/cpifaq.htm)

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items [CPIAUCSL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL, March 8, 2017.