How the CPI Affects Stocks

Alexander Boulden

Updated June 20, 2024

“And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.”  — John F. Kennedy

Today we’re going to discuss how the CPI affects stocks. Bear with me for a second…

When I graduated college, it was the height of the financial crisis. At school, we were all pretty insulated from the severity of the fallout. We lived on the water. Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, wakeboarding… they were excellent distractions from what was awaiting us outside the ivory walls of university. Once we graduated, though, we quickly learned the hard way that everything had changed. Everything we thought we did right — studying, reading, creating a social network — was wrong, at least for that time. We entered college under the naive and false promise that if you got a degree, a job would be waiting for you.

After all, that was true for all the previous generations. But for us, jobs were nowhere to be found. And it’s happening again today…

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

In the 2010s, it was just too risky for employers to higher recent grads with little or no experience. I still remember applying for “entry-level” positions that required 10 years of experience or some nonsense like that. Sure, you could get an unpaid internship, but pride wouldn’t let me do that.

And I sure as hell wasn’t about to admit defeat and move back home with my parents.

So I did what any young buck would do… I worked construction for a custom homebuilder. Now, I had a little experience. I had worked as a painter for a historic society in college and I’d worked as a farmhand on a historic site as well. But I was willing to get up before the sun, hop up onto a roof, and tear some shingles off. I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. We remodeled houses, built custom bookshelves and stairs, and painted… a lot. We built a four-unit apartment complex from the ground up — drop ceilings, flooring, siding, roofing, you name it. We hung all the windows and doors, and I must have painted about 50 doors in that place. Sometimes I still have dreams about painting doors, back and forth. It was humbling going from a cushy college environment to breaking my back, but I was willing to do what needed to be done. To this day, painting houses is one of my favorite pastimes.

One night, on the way home from a long day of siding this massive apartment complex, I was driving along a windy back road. I came up behind an SUV and was trailing it for a few miles. Everything seemed normal. Then all of a sudden, the vehicle make a quick jerk to the right, then corrected to the left, and then severely overcorrected to the right and rode up an embankment. From there, the vehicle gained speed as it came back down the embankment, shot across to the other side of the road and crashed head-on into a telephone pole.

I slammed on the brakes, pulled over, and ran as fast as I could to the wreck. Upon opening the driver’s side door, I saw two people in the SUV — one in the driver’s seat and one in the passenger’s seat. The driver was seemingly unconscious but then quickly shot straight up and looked around like she’d fallen asleep. Then I heard a baby crying and the passenger got out, took the baby out of the back car seat, and handed him to me while she checked on the driver, who was thankfully OK. I held the baby until the cops came.

I don’t know if the driver fell asleep at the wheel or what, but it was then I realized that I didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel of my own life. I needed to take control.

I realized that in order to get ahead, I had to invest. I would eventually find myself floating on the Chesapeake Bay in my own boat, reading anything I could get my hands on. But that’s a story for another time.

Something that came up often was the Fed and how it controls market sentiment through interest rates and how key economic numbers affect those decisions.

One of those numbers is the consumer price index (CPI), which is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a basket of goods and services. It is one of the most widely used indicators of inflation. The CPI is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and it includes various categories like food, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education, and communication.

These government-calculated numbers (which are often revised later) unfortunately have an outsized effect on stock prices. It’s what we’ve been seeing so much of lately because a rising CPI indicates inflation, which leads central banks (like the Federal Reserve) to raise interest rates to curb inflation. Higher interest rates can increase borrowing costs for companies and consumers, potentially slowing economic growth and impacting corporate earnings, thereby sending stock prices lower.

Inflation also increases costs for raw materials, wages, and other inputs. If companies are unable to pass these costs on to consumers, profit margins can shrink, which can negatively impact stock prices.

Inflation fears can then lead to increased market volatility. If CPI data indicates higher-than-expected inflation, it can trigger market sell-offs as investors anticipate tighter monetary policy and a potential economic slowdown.

Here’s all you really need to know…

The latest CPI numbers came in at 3.3%. Remember, the Fed wants a 2% inflation rate. We’re so painfully close, yet so far away.

But when the CPI drops to 2%, the Fed will be forced to cut rates, which will send stocks to the moon.

And these are the stocks that will benefit the most…

Stay frosty,

Alexander Boulden
Editor, Wealth Daily

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After Alexander’s passion for economics and investing drew him to one of the largest financial publishers in the world, where he rubbed elbows with former Chicago Board Options Exchange floor traders, Wall Street hedge fund managers, and International Monetary Fund analysts, he decided to take up the pen and guide others through this new age of investing.

Alexander is the investment director of Insider Stakeout — a weekly investment advisory service dedicated to tracking the smartest money on the planet so that his readers can achieve life-altering, market-beating returns. He also serves at the managing editor for R.I.C.H. Report, a comprehensive service that uses the highest-quality investment research and strategies that guides its members in growing their wealth on top of preserving it.

Check out his editor’s page here.

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