Tuesday, April 12, 2011

U.S. Import Prices Up 22% In Two Years

The super-weak U.S. dollar is having a predictable effect on import prices, as they rose 2.7% in March 2011 from February 2011, 9.7% from March 2010 and 22% from March 2009. These increases are mostly driven by higher fuel prices, yet even non-fuel import prices are up at an accelarating rate, by 0.6% ( 7.4% at an annualized rate) from February, 4.2% from March 2010 and 7% (3.4% at an annualized rate) from March 2009.

Export prices are also increasing at an accelarating rate, mainly due to higher prices of agricultural products, but at a slower rate than import prices.

Another redistributive effect from QE2 is thus from the vast majority of Americans who aren't farmers and are hurt by higher fuel and food prices to the minority of farmers who benefit from higher food prices. Given this fact, and the fact that the federal budget is being cut, this is a good opportunity to end farm subsidies. However, given the strength of the farm lobby, I wouldn't bet on it happening even under the current conducive conditions.