Biden cheers cooling inflation ahead of key Fed interest rate decision

Craig Hudson | Reuters
  • President Joe Biden took a victory lap on the latest inflation report, which showed prices cooling.
  • Biden also took the opportunity to attack the economic proposals of his likely November election opponent, Donald Trump.
  • Consumer prices remained unchanged in May, marking the first time since July 2022 that prices have not risen month over month.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday took a victory lap on the latest inflation report, which found that consumer prices did not rise in May over their April levels, marking the first time since 2022 that U.S. month-over-month inflation has remained flat.

"Prices are still too high, but today's report shows welcome progress on lowering inflation," Biden said in a statement.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report also showed that the annual inflation rate fell to 3.3% in May, down from 3.4% in April and 3.5% in March.

The numbers also came in cooler than economists had expected, with those surveyed by Dow Jones having predicted a 0.1% increase in prices and a 3.4% annual rate of inflation.

"Wages are rising faster than prices, and unemployment has remained at or below 4% for the longest stretch in 50 years," said Biden.

"I know many families are feeling squeezed by the cost of living, which is still too high," he added.

Combination picture showing former U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Combination picture showing former U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Five months out from the November election, the cooling inflation data is good news for Biden as he mounts a re-election campaign built on the argument that his administration has revived the economy from the chaos wrought by the pandemic.

Last Friday, Biden also patted himself on the back for a blockbuster jobs report, which showed that the U.S. economy added 272,000 jobs in May, well above the Dow Jones forecast of 190,000.

Biden also used Wednesday's positive report to take a swing at former President Donald Trump's economic agenda.

"Republicans have a different approach, one that cuts taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, allows special interest like Big Pharma and Big Oil to keep prices high, and 'supercharges' inflation by imposing across-the-board tariffs," Biden said in his statement.

The Trump campaign fired back against Biden's criticism, maintaining that costs are still too high because of the Democratic president's economic policies.

"Workers and families are literally paying the price for Joe Biden's failed economic policies, with prices on household essentials like gas, food, rent, and diapers skyrocketing," a Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.

Trump has so far laid out an economic platform based on imposing tariffs on all imports, extending his first-term tax cuts and pressuring the Fed to cut rates — all of which economists say would likely stoke inflation higher.

"Joe Biden inherited an economy on the brink from Donald Trump," said Biden campaign spokesman James Singer, adding that the president "is now leading the great American comeback."

The timing of Wednesday's CPI release was also significant. The interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee has been meeting for two days to debate whether or not to lower interest rates.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will address the media later in the day. The growing consensus among analysts is that the Fed will keep benchmark rates unchanged for now, but the odds of a September rate cut are looking up.

Copyright CNBC
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