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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Inflation remains flat, retail sales improve

Consumer inflation remained essentially unchanged in March compared with February and retail sales rose slightly more than expected, providing some welcome spring news to a halting economy.

Inflation rose only 0.1 percent in March compared with February and was up a modest 2.3 percent compared with March of last year. If you remove the volatile food and energy prices, core inflation was zero, or unchanged, compared with February and up only 1.1 percent since March of last year.

This means prices for products are staying low for consumers, which is aiding the bump in retail sales.

In March, retail sales rose 1.6 percent, which beat expectations of 1.3 percent. Removing autos from the picture, retail sales rose 0.6 percent. Removing autos and gasoline, sales rose 0.7 percent.

The March number beat February retail sales, which rose only 0.5 percent, and makes for the third straight month of increases.

This is encouraging if slightly puzzling news for the economy. With unemployment still at 9.7 percent and likely to remain near 10 percent at least through the remainder of this year, this is a jobless recovery. Instead, it has become a spending recovery, which is good for the U.S. GDP, which is 70 percent based on consumer spending, but it could mean the consumers are putting purchases on credit cards, which is not a good thing and is one of the ways this nation plunged into the Great Recession.

The Federal Reserve has said it expects inflation to remain low for the foreseeable future, which is allowing it to keep interest rates at historically low levels. However, some economists expect inflation to begin rising, given the amount of money pumped into the system by the government in 2008, in its attempt to stem the liquidity crisis. The government counters by saying the economic slack in the system -- chiefly, high unemployment -- is keeping inflation low.

Later today, the Fed is expected to release its Beige Book, its eight-times-per-year anecdotal report on economic conditions in the Fed's 12 districts around the country. The last Beige Book offered some encouraging news on the economy.

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By Frank Ahrens  |  April 14, 2010; 8:46 AM ET
 | Tags: Economy, Energy, Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve System, Gasoline, Inflation, Interest rate, Unemployment, consumer price index, core inflation, inflation  
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Comments

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7. for every empty lot in America, the owners shall provide onsite 24/7 security to insure the empty lot is not used for anything illegal.

8. for every empty building in America, the owners shall provide onsite 24/7 security.

9. companies shall adhere to EEOC guidelines. Failure to do so will result in fines of 250,000 per occurrence.

10. cancel all foreign social security agreements.

11. raise taxes on corporations that don't manufacture at all in the USA.

12. give tax breaks for those that do manufacture entirely in the USA.

13. invest in energy independence.

14. invest in developing our own food supply.

15. invest in the space program.

16. all federal and state work must be done in America.

17. all work involving financial transaction will be done in the USA.

18. all local goverments that are financed by property values will develop the budget and then set the property tax rate to
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19. term limits for politicians.

20. all politicians that fail to pass a budget will be ineligible to run for reelection.

21. that all homes use electricity to heat them and that all homes use an energy adapter to connect to power lines or a portable energy source.

22. that all states that will have offshore drilling train and maintain an oil spill reponse force paid for tby the oil companies.

23. tbd

will provide more later...

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