More inflation

Looks like inflation is back. And except in a few areas, it’s not looking good, says N.C. State University economist Mike Walden.

“The latest reading we have for inflation at the retail level, so-called consumer prices, was for February — not a pretty picture. If we just looked at February and extrapolated what happened in February for the full year, we are running at an over 6 percent annualized inflation rate. That’s up from a 5 percent annual rate we had in both December and January, and it’s up from the between 1 and 2 percent annual rates that we had for most of 2010.

“So not a pretty picture. Of course, as everyone knows this has been led by gas prices — gas prices up significantly in February. Food prices are also rising. In February, they rose at an annual rate of 7 percent.

“And here is perhaps an interesting one. The price of new vehicles, when you go into a showroom to buy a new car, they went up in February at an annual rate of 12 percent. I think that is showing some health in the vehicle selling market.

“Is there any good news out there? Well, you can find some. Clothing prices are down, rents are going up very slowly for renters, and restaurant prices — prices for food that you eat in a restaurant — are going up much slower than supermarket prices.”

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