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Expert: Price Hikes Don’t Mean Runaway Inflation

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File Photo (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

File Photo (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – With oil and food prices surging, the consumer inflation rate rose last month at its fastest pace in nearly two years, up half a percent in February.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, a Chicago economist doesn’t see a threat of runaway inflation.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, says while core inflation remains tame, oil and food prices are taxing the fragile economic recovery.

“It’s a tax on consumers. It’s very detrimental, but it can’t take on the kinds of proportions it did in the past, because we just don’t have the budget to support it,” she said.

Swonk says there is a sort of stealth inflation. For example, what used to be a 64-ounce carton of orange juice has now been reduced to 59 ounces for the same price.

“The fact that they have to hide it, really, is testimony to how difficult it is in an environment where consumers are so constrained. They just can’t afford to go ahead and spend a lot more, and that’s one the things stopping inflation from becoming a vicious cycle,” Swonk said.

For now, at least, Swonk says inflation has not threatened to spiral out of control.

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