Consumer Price Index

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The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the increase in price for a range of goods and services across the country and is the most commonly-quoted measure of the U.S. inflation rate.

Measurement

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles the CPI by recording price changes in 87 urban areas and 23,000 retail and services establishments across the U.S. and quotes the index in both annual and monthly figures.[1]The BLS separates the CPI into All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), covering 87 percent of the population, and Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), covering 32 percent.

Trading

The introduction of inflation-indexed Treasury bonds (TIPS) by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 1997 created a market for hedging inflation risk and led to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launching futures contracts on the CPI.[2] The contract is structured to resemble 3-month Eurodollar futures and priced based on the IMM Index.

The cash-settled contract's trade unit is valued at $2,500 times the Reference CPI Futures Index with a tick size of $12.50. and lists quarterly in March, June, September and December.[3] They can be traded by, among others, TIPS holders hedging short-term inflation risk and Eurodollar futures holders hedging longer-term risk.

History

The 2007 U.S. CPI was 4.1 percent for the whole year compared to the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for the first three months of 2008 of 3.1 percent. In 2010, the CPI increased 1.2 percent before seasonal adjustment. [4]

In November 2010, it was reported that the CPI rose by only .6 per cent from a year ago. This number excluded volatile food and energy prices. It was the lowest rate of inflation since the series began in 1957. [5]

References

  1. Consumer Price Indexes. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. CME CPI Futures - Overview. CME.
  3. CME Consumer Price Index Futures. CME.
  4. Consumer Price Index - October 2010. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  5. Core US inflation slowest on record. Financial Times.