The wild ride of pandemic consumer prices

·1 min read

Data: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Consumer prices have been more volatile over the past year than at any point in decades — for good reason.

Why it matters: Congress has tasked the Federal Reserve with ensuring price stability when it comes to consumer prices overall. But the price of a broad basket of goods and services can be pretty steady even if the various components inside that basket are gyrating wildly.

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

The big picture: It's impossible to have shutdowns, shortages, and a massive reconfiguration of the global economy without significant price disruption, which is exactly what we've seen over the past year.

The intrigue: Because of the complexity of the economy, some of the disruptions can be counterintuitive or unexpected.

  • While the price of pork chops has risen by 11% since January, the price of ham has been flat. And while bananas have fallen in price by 1.3%, fresh fruit excluding bananas, apples and citrus has risen by over 11%.

  • The price of car and truck rentals has had a particularly striking trajectory, falling by 23% between January and May of 2020, and then rising by 61% between May 2020 and March 2021 — for an overall rise of 24%.

The bottom line: There's no indication that price volatility is over. Many of the biggest price moves have taken place in the most recent months.

More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting