Moderate Contraction of Export / Import Prices in October 2011

October 2011 export prices fell 2.1% month-over-month while import prices fell 0.6%.  The October decline in export prices was led by 19.0% decreases for both soybeans and corn.

No question that the run up in prices seen since mid-2010 is over with exports now up only 6.3% year-over-year and imports up 11.0%

All Imports: Import prices fell for the third time in five months in October, declining 0.6 percent for the month. The decrease matched a 0.6 percent decline in June, the largest one-month drop since the index fell 1.2 percent in June 2010. The price index for overall imports fell 1.4 percent over the past five months, primarily driven down over that period by declining fuel prices. Despite the recent decreases, import prices advanced 11.0 percent over the past year.

All Exports: Overall export prices fell 2.1 percent in October, driven lower by falling prices for both nonagricultural and agricultural exports. The October decline followed advances of 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent the two previous months. Despite the October drop, overall export prices increased 6.3 percent over the past year.

The data over the last several months is telling us is that IMPORTED food and oil prices are still taking a breather from their recent price run-up.

The YoY data is now being compared to the inflationary cycle beginning in mid-2010.

There are different rates of inflation occurring in the economy according to multiple measurements by a single agency (BLS):

Each rate of inflation is measuring a different pulse point, and each represents the breadbasket of costs / prices relative to that grouping. It should be pointed out that fuel import prices are up over 33.8% year-over-year, and has a 26.5% weight in the import index. Few consumers spend 26.5% of their income on fuel.

Caveats on the Use of the Export / Import Price Index

Both import and export prices index values shown in this post is a weighted average for the the entire category of exports or imports.  The BLS has many sub-categories relating to a particular commodity or goods.

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