US small businesses have stopped raising prices, according to the just-released June survey of the National Federation of Independent Business. Only 1% more firms raised prices rather than lowered them in June, vs. 7% in May.
This is another sign that the Fed’s inflation target might as well be on the dark side of the moon. The Fed staff thinks it is en route to a stable 2% inflation rate by 2019, but the real world doesn’t seem to agree. All of the supposed one-off, idiosyncratic, temporary price reductions (mobile phone plans, pharmaceuticals, and so forth) are starting to look like points on a trend line.
That leaves a big question mark over Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony today: If Yellen sticks to the astrology tables concocted by her staff and insists that the Fed has to lean against resurgent inflation, the markets won’t like it at all.