The Economist Is Shrill
Brad Setser Asks a Question

Michael Pettis: China's CPI numbers look bad

Michael Pettis wrote:

RGE - China's CPI numbers look bad: China’s CPI was up 6.5% in October, up from 6.2% in September.  This matches CPI inflation for August and, with that exception, is the highest monthly CPI inflation number since the 7.0% recorded in December 1996. On the one hand October inflation slightly exceeded the consensus forecast of 6.3-6.4%, but on the other hand it is below the 6.8-7.0% that some people (including me) were worrying about. (However you can read my own blog to see why I think October inflation may actually be over 7 %.)  This is the third month of inflation over 6%, and I think that given the recent cut in fuel subsidies it is hard to see what can drive CPI inflation below 6% for the rest of the year. 

I think by now it is pretty clear that this is no longer just a food thing, although some analysts continue to say that it is.  For example they argue that the non-food component rose just 1.1% last month from a year earlier, the same pace as it did in September, whereas food prices were up 17.6%. 

That suggests that food is still the primary force driving prices upward, although in a poor country where one-third of the CPI basket is food, I would think that rising food prices must affect wages and, through wages, the rest of the economy.  More to the point today we were also told that PPI was up 3.2% in October, compared to 2.7% in September (and 2.6% in August, 2.4% in July, and 2.5% in June).  Food prices were a big part of that, but oil and raw materials were up 4.8% and mining was up 5.4%, (4.5% and 1.2% in September), and this doesn’t fully take into account the 8-10% increase in gasoline and diesel prices that was passed late last month...