Stateside inflation is running at its hottest rate since the early 1980s, piling even more pressure on the US Federal Reserve to launch a stauncher and faster rate hike cycle.
Prices in the US are 7.5 per cent higher than they were a year ago in January, according to fresh figures published today by the US Labor Department, the fastest rate of acceleration since February 1982.
The eye watering inflation print seems certain to encourage Fed Chair Jerome Powell to aggressively attack price rises by unleashing several rate hikes in the first half of this year.
Some experts now see a stronger chance of the world’s most influential central bank defying recent history and hiking rates 50 basis points at its next meeting in March after today’s piping hot print.
Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Today’s numbers likely will re-embolden the hawks.”
Markets are now pricing some six quarter percentage point rate rises by the Fed this year, which, if borne out, will raise global borrowing costs sharply.
January’s inflation reading smashed Wall Street’s expectations again, continuing a streak of economists and the Fed undercooking the severity of price rises in America.
Experts were pencilling in inflation to come in at 7.3 per cent.
Worryingly, the elevated cost of living in the US could be a sign of things to come in the UK.
Many of the factors driving inflation higher across the pond – including soaring energy and food costs – are reflected in Britain.
The Bank of England has been the quickest major central bank off the mark to launch a rate hike spree to tame inflation, lifting them at back-to-back meetings for the first time since 2004.
However, a combination of higher rates – now at 0.5 per cent – inflation peaking at 7.25 per cent in April, looming tax hikes and 54 per cent uplift to the energy bill cap will erode Brits’ living standards at the worst since comparable records began in 1990.
Economists are now concerned the cost of living squeeze will throw the UK’s economic recovery off course, casting doubt over how quickly the Bank should move this year to get a hold of inflation.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, warned: “It wouldn’t take much of a further knock to [living standards]… for the recovery to stall completely.”