Grumpy Editor growls a bit when spotting the overworked “tame” --- as happened in three stories in Saturday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal --- by far the favorite word used by media in reference to inflation.
In a main story on the Labor Department report, the WSJ notes, “Outside the volatile areas of food and energy, Friday’s consumer price report suggested inflation remains relatively tame.”
A few pages later in the same issue, the WSJ mentions, “The consumer price index excluding food and energy, closely watched by the Federal Reserve, posted a smaller-than-forecast gain of 0.1 percent in March, signaling that price inflation remained tame despite rising crude-oil prices.”
Then on the commodities page, another WSJ story works in, “The tame core inflation gives the Federal Reserve latitude to keep its low-interest rate policies in place…”
The WSJ is not alone in labeling inflation “tame.” Use of that word by editors, writers and broadcasters has been going on for at least two years.
Economists’ short definition of inflation is: a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services over a period of time.
When Grumpy Editor sees or hears “tame,” he thinks of the term used to convert a wild animal (such as a bear) to a domesticated state --- a definition similar to what one finds in dictionaries.
Yet, search “tame inflation” on Google and see an astonishing 2,830,000 results. Reversing the words to “inflation tame” nets a higher 2,920,000 results.
Many people --- other than those writing inflation stories off government handouts --- seeing higher price tags on just about everything these days substitute descriptive words other than “tame” on the items.
Those folks will be happy to know that a posting on business channel CNBC’s Web site last Tuesday, notes, “Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter.” (See the difference in charts at: www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts.)
That’s before the Bureau of Labor Statistics changed the way it calculates the CPI --- offering a key clue as to why current inflation remains “tame.”