Biden says inflation is 'zero in July', media lines up

In July, the price of eggs and milk increased. The price of fruits and vegetables has increased. The price of new cars has gone up. El...


In July, the price of eggs and milk increased. The price of fruits and vegetables has increased. The price of new cars has gone up. Electricity costs more. Medical costs have increased. Alcohol has become more expensive. The rent has gone up.

President Joe Biden bragged about the report listing those cost increases on Wednesday, saying inflation was “zero percent” for July, a claim repeated or slightly modified and repeated by most media outlets.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures released Wednesday are calculated and released, as economic data always is, taking into account a variety of factors. The prices of different sets of values ​​are averaged. It is possible to select from data and averages in order to move forward or simply to highlight a particular point of view.

In the case of President Biden, he said “our economy had zero percent inflation in the month of July.”

On CNN, Biden’s senior adviser Sperling gene said “there was no inflation” in July. Anchor Ana Cabrera briefly called him out, but backed off when he repeated the assertion.

“There was no inflation,” Sperling said. When Cabrera interrupted him to say that in fact inflation was 8.5% in July, Sperling replied, “No, for this month, I’m saying there was actually no of inflation.

Zero percent, Biden said. No inflation, Sperling said.

But the actual number was 8.5%, not zero percent. The CPI report says so explicitly, writing that “the index for all items rose 8.5% for the 12 months to July.”

And that wording, “the 12 months ending in July,” is the rub. Well that and gas prices. Inflation was 8.5% last month. Not zero. The administration is trying to make it sound like zero because the inflation rate in June and July was ballpark. It’s already playing fast and free, but given the fact that the prices Americans pay for almost everything non-energy related have gone at the top from prices in Juneand the decline in the price of oil is from record highs and remains crushing…

To better these claims could be called misleading. That is, if one were to assume a friendly press using the “you know what they mean” calculus, you might reasonably expect that to be called “misleading.” At worst, and in the literal sense of words like “true” and “correct” or “false” and “incorrect”, the two statements are the latter.

However, the administration and some media will continue to claim that 0% is correct, when the real figure is 8.5%.

For example, Axios Explain under a headline claiming “Inflation Falls to Zero” that inflation hasn’t actually fallen to zero.

“Consumer prices were unchanged in July as falling gasoline prices pushed the consumer price index to zero,” Axios wrote. “Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose just 0.3%, below analysts’ expectations.”

Notice the word “pink.” Inflation has increased.

So, no, consumer prices did not remain unchanged in July, as Axios wrote. The medium the increase was slower due to gasoline, with the overall rate being less pronounced on this factor. But prices, the actual amount people pay for things, were far from fixed, and “zero” doesn’t apply to anything real.

It is therefore misleading at best, and false, using the definitions of the words, to say that prices were unchanged or that inflation was zero. Prices were not unchanged.

A quote attributed to the mathematician Hugo Rossi has some applicability here: “In the fall of 1972, President Nixon announced that the rate of inflation was declining. It was the first time a sitting president had used the third derivative to advance his re-election case.

Writing on the economy in 2013, Chris Wilson Explain which quotes this way:

(A derivative, remember, is a rate of change of a value. Nixon said that the increasing price of goods and services – inflation, our first derivative – itself increased – the second derivative – but that the rate at which it increased was in decline — third derivative.)

This is relevant to today’s news except that Biden and Sperling said there is literally no inflation.

Even though, as indicated in some news bulletins and the CPI report, prices have continued to rise, both compared to last year and compared to June.

Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration Larry Summers was more cautious with “good news” when speaking with MSNBC’S Andrea Mitchell Wednesday, saying “it would be a mistake for anyone to drastically revise their view of the situation based on these numbers.”

In President Biden’s remarks this morning, he acknowledged that prices have gone up after saying inflation was zero.

Biden literally said that some things went up in price and others went down, then repeated the claim that that meant there was no inflation.

The American Heritage dictionary defines inflation as “a persistent increase in the level of consumer prices or a persistent decline in the purchasing power of money” and “the rate at which this increase occurs, expressed as a percentage over a period of time, usually a year.”

The Economist’s Glossary of Economic Terms also describes inflation as “an annual percentage rate of change” – not monthly – in purchasing power. Merriam-Webster defines inflation as “a continuous increase in the general level of prices generally attributed to an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to the goods and services available”.

Inflation is pegged to something and expressed as a single number for a set of items because in any given area prices naturally fluctuate over time. This is why the Consumer Price Index releases the report and gives inflation a number, as Biden and Axios point out.

And in the case of the July report, they did it again. This figure was 8.5%. Not zero percent. And in almost all areas of consumption, with the exception of energy, prices have increased not only compared to last year, but also compared to the previous month.

There is a word for this increase: Inflation. And a number: 8.5%. Core inflation increased from June to July. There are three words for that: not zero percent.

But hey, at least he didn’t blame Vladimir Poutine this time.

In politics, in kitchen table matters, it’s even more basic. Voters know when everything costs more. They know when they are paying more for food, on their electricity bill and for housing. That’s what people know is inflation. One would expect the media to point this out, to caution the calculations with bare facts.

And if it wasn’t Joe Biden, if it wasn’t a Democratic administration with grim poll numbers just weeks away from a potentially devastating midterm election, you have to wonder if reporters and the media would have done, instead of just repeating the “zero”. would they want to check the facts? Would they say ‘take it with a grain of salt’ if it was someone else in power?

Take the worst case scenario: donald trump. If he had said inflation was zero when it was 8.5%, the media would have been checking him out all day saying that was wrong. When Trump’s apologists then said “Well, he obviously means that the average rate of price increase, not underlying inflation, was flat between June and July,” we would have heard about two thousand” jokes” about taking Trump “seriously not literally”. ”

Nobody asked today whether to take Biden at face value when he said July inflation was “zero percent.”

There is also a term for this difference: partisan bias.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden says inflation is 'zero in July', media lines up
Biden says inflation is 'zero in July', media lines up
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