U.S. Inflation Expectations Are Lowest in Years, Fed Survey Shows

  • Inflation outlook three years ahead dips to 2.9 percent
  • Households see little change in year-ahead earnings growth

Consumer expectations for inflation three years ahead fell last month to the lowest level in records going back to June 2013, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York survey released Monday.

The median respondent to the New York Fed’s August Survey of Consumer Expectations predicted annual consumer price inflation three years hence would be 2.9 percent, down from 3 percent the month before. Median expected inflation a year ahead fell to 2.8 percent from 3 percent, marking the second-lowest response in the history of the survey.

The results come ahead of Sept. 16-17 meeting of Fed policy makers in Washington at which Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues will debate whether to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Officials said in a statement following their last meeting in July that they needed to see “some further improvement” in the job market and be “reasonably confident” in the inflation outlook. Their preferred measure of prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index, was up 0.3 percent in July from a year earlier and has run below the central bank’s 2 percent target for over three years.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer attributed much of the current shortfall to the recent drop in oil prices and appreciation of the U.S. dollar during an Aug. 29 speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Given the apparent stability of inflation expectations, there is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further,” Fischer said.

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