March 10, 2004

Where is the PPI data?

"I don't know." That's what I ask readers who want to know where January and February producer price data is. It's been delayed. The full text of the Labor Department's explanation is below. Why does it matter? If the PPI shows rising prices, it could mean that those prices are soon going to show up in consumer prices as well....the dreaded inflation. Up to now, the PPI has been able to pass off the gains in producer prices as driven by rising energy prices. Rising energy prices hurt consumers too, not just producers, and could be the leading edge of an inflationary wave. Were that the case, the Fed would have to do what it has said it probably won't do, and what it desperately does not WANT to do, raise interest rates. Raise rates and you kill the nascent housing boom part three. Raise rates and you kill the recovery on life support. Raise rates and all sorts of bad things start to happen. Yet without obvious proof that producer prices aren't rising, there won't be as much pressure to raise rates. So are producer prices rising? Good question.... Here's the announcement: Delay of Release of PPI for January 2004 and February 2004 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As announced on February 17, the release of the Producer Price Index (PPI) for January 2004 has been delayed from the originally scheduled date of February 19, 2004. The length of that delay now means that the release of February data originally scheduled for Friday, March 12, must also be postponed. The delays have been caused by unexpected difficulties in the conversion of PPI data from the Standard Industrial Classification system to the North American Industry Classification System. These difficulties have taken far longer to resolve than we originally expected. We will continue to work diligently to resolve the remaining issues holding up the calculation of the PPI. When revised release dates for the January and for the February 2004 Producer Price Indexes have been determined, we plan to announce them at least one day ahead of time on this web page and through news advisories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expresses its sincere apologies to those who have experienced any problems as a result of this delay


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