How prescient: Misery index redux


On Tuesday we broached the topic of the misery index — unemployment rate plus inflation rate — and waxed nostalgic for the days of the Carter presidency when the index approached 20 percent. This prompted the customary cackle of catcalls: It’s not true and, if any of it is true, it’s Bush’s fault anyway. You watch too much Fox News. You wear a cowboy hat, so you mustn’t have anything underneath. Everything Obama touches turns to gold.

Today, The Associated Press is reporting two separate stories on the two factors in the misery index, both dateline Washington, D.C., the seat of all power since federalism died under crushing weight of the New Deal.

“A big jump in food and gas costs pushed consumer prices up in January, but outside those volatile categories inflation was relatively tame,” AP reported, ever trying to find the rosy side when a Democrat is in the White House.

“The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent last month, matching December's increase. In the past year, the index has risen 1.6 percent.

“Excluding food and energy, the core index rose 0.2 percent.” I’ve not tried excluding food and energy from my budget. Have you? Food prices were up 0.5 percent in January and energy increased 2.1 percent.

The second story reported, “More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, one week after claims had fallen to the lowest level in nearly three years.

“The Labor Department says 410,000 people sought unemployment assistance last week, a jump of 25,000 from the previous week. The rise was much larger than economists had expected.”

When was the last time you read a news account in which the news was precisely what  “economists” expected?