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Thursday, March 23, 2023

US Inflation Reaches Historic High of 7.9%, Global Fuel and Food Costs Surge

Last month, price hikes in the United States accelerated, pushing the annual inflation rate to 7.9%.

This is the largest year-over-year increase since 1982, and it is higher than the 7.5 percent rate reported in January.

The gains, which are pressuring household earnings, were driven by rising energy, food, and shelter expenses.

President Joe Biden and central bank officials are under pressure to stop the rises, which have lasted longer than many expected.

At its meeting this month, the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, is largely expected to raise interest rates.

The Bank of England has already raised rates in the UK, where inflation touched 5.5 percent in January, while the European Central Bank announced on Thursday that it will reduce part of its pandemic-era stimulus earlier than planned in response to pricing pressures.

“The risks to the economic outlook have grown dramatically with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and are slanted to the downside,” ECB president Christine Lagarde said at a press briefing.

She warned that the conflict will have “a major impact on economic activity and inflation” because to increasing energy and commodity prices, interruption of international trade, and a loss of trust.

High inflation had already been plaguing the United States and other areas of the world for months, as a rise in demand, fueled in part by pandemic help, ran against supply restrictions, labor shortages, and other concerns.

The conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, driving up global energy costs as the West and its allies avoid Russian oil, which accounts for approximately 7% of world supplies.

According to the Labor Department’s monthly report on consumer prices, energy costs in the United States increased by 3.5 percent in February, owing to a 6.6 percent increase in gasoline prices.

The energy index has increased by more than 25% in the last year, with gasoline rising by 38%.

According to Cox Automotive data, Americans who drive SUVs are now spending an average of $110 more per month to run their car than they were a year ago. Even hybrid drivers have seen their monthly bills rise by around $40, according to the business.

According to Matt Smith, an oil expert at Kpler, the rise in energy costs would raise prices far beyond the petrol pump.

“We’re focused on the headline crude number,” he added, “but oil is utilized as an input in the production of a wide range of goods.”

Last month, grocery prices in the United States increased by 1.4 percent, owing to higher expenses for meat, fruits, and vegetables. They’ve increased by 8.6% year over year, the biggest yearly increase since 1981.

Analysts predict that rising energy and other commodity costs as a result of the conflict will push US inflation further higher in March, to 8% or more.

Consumer morale has been harmed as growing expenses surpass wage increases, posing a political challenge for President Joe Biden.

Republicans have chastised him on the problem, which few economists believe will be resolved in the foreseeable future.

“Inflation is still accelerating,” said Sarah House, a Wells Fargo analyst. “As a result, consumers and politicians are in a very uncomfortable position.”

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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