EDITOR'S NOTE: Readers who have been following us over the years are familiar with economist John Williams and his Shadowstats website. Shadowstats is known for its “alternative” interpretations of official inflation (and other economic) data. In the case of inflation, what are now considered alternatives are calculations that were formerly “official,” meaning, the issuing agency changed Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculations twice over the decades. So, what we have is a 1980-based and 1990-based reading of “real inflation”; in short, how today’s inflation might have been read in the years leading up to 1980 and 1990. If you were around in the 1970s, you might remember that inflation peaked in 1980 with a CPI reading of 13.50%. According to those same calculations, our current inflation rate is not 9.1% but closer to 18%, meaning we’ve already exceeded the 1980 limit. How’s that for a sobering dose of economic reality?
The CPI chart on the home page reflects our estimate of inflation for today as if it were calculated the same way it was in 1990. The CPI on the Alternate Data Series tab here reflects the CPI as if it were calculated using the methodologies in place in 1980. In general terms, methodological shifts in government reporting have depressed reported inflation, moving the concept of the CPI away from being a measure of the cost of living needed to maintain a constant standard of living.
CPI Year-to-Year Growth
The CPI-U (consumer price index) is the broadest measure of consumer price inflation for goods and services published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
While the headline number usually is the seasonally-adjusted month-to-month change, the formal CPI is reported on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis, with annual inflation measured in terms of year-to-year percent change in the price index.
In the charts to the right we show two SGS-Alternate CPI estimates: One based on the pre-1990 official methodology for computing the CPI-U, and the other based on the methodology which was employed prior to 1980.
Please note: Our Data Download is currently only providing the 1980-Based numbers, but 1990-Based numbers will be introduced shortly.
Source: Shadow Stats
Republishing our charts: Permission, Restrictions and Instructions (includes important requirements for successful hot-linking)
Originally published by Shadow Stats.