CPI & Retail Sales

The rollicking response to Friday’s
PPI data makes today’s Consumer Price Index especially significant.

Last week, we learned food prices rose 7.7% year over year, while energy prices gained 3.4%. Gasoline prices are now above where they were post-Katrina, averaging over $3 across the country. And the Summer driving season doesn’t begin for another two weeks. 

On Friday, markets focused on the core rate — it was flat, mostly due to an unexpected drop in prescription drug prices, and
a not unexpected
drop in both car and truck prices.

Inflation in the pipeline remains
robust as intermediate goods
(that is ex food and fuel) rose .8% — the biggest gain since last

Paul Kasriel observes that "inflation-
adjusted retail sales fell in both March and April.
"  Kasriel deflates
nominal retail sales by the consumer price index for
commodities to determine real sales volume, rather than merely measure inflation driven price increases.  "Revised March nominal retail sales increased 0.97%. The CPI for commodities increased 1.22% in March,” which means real sales fell. April’s nominal decline of 0.2% will translate into
a decline in inflation-adjusted retail sales as well. "Although two consecutive months of contracting real
retail sales is not the rarest event, in conjunction with
falling house prices, I would conclude that it’s not good,”

Kasriel says.         

That’s why today’s CPI data is worth scrutining closely. Not only will we find out the extent that inflation is being
passed along to consumers — we will also get a clearer read on Retail. How much are sales increasing? Are monthly sales data reflecting prices going up? The answer to these questions are significant to investors; look at Home Depot  (profits fell 30%) and WalMart (Q2
earnings may miss analysts’ expectations) — their disappointments will be weighing on the market this morning.


Concensus is for CPI to rise 0.5%. Core CPI (aka inflation ex-inflation) is expected to climb ~0.2%.


Weekly U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices
Regular Grade Dollars per gallon, including all taxes   
Energy Information Administration

Easter Bonnets Turn Retail Sales Inside Out
Caroline Baum
Bloomberg, May 15 2007

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Friday Night Jazz: Gerry Mulligan

Paraiso_2About 10 years ago, while window shopping in Sag Harbor (the least offensive of the Hamptons), I hear this fabulous music wafting out the door of a small shop.

Turns out it was Gerry Mulligan‘s CD, Paraiso-Jazz Brazil. An eye opener. Clean, cool recording of lovely Latin melodies, all the while overlaid with this dry, reedy saxophone that infused the music with a flavorful sophistication.

Mulligan_chetbakerThat was Gerry Mulligan’s sound.  NPR radio observed that Mulligan was "the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz." But Mulligan was more than that — he was a
commanding composer, an innovative musician, someone who pushed boundaries, yet remained accessible and enjoyable to listen to.

His history of playing with other key Jazz greats is rather astounding: He worked with Miles Davis‘ on the historic Birth of the Cool. He created a piano-less ensemble, with trumpeter Chet Baker.

Meets_monkHe cut albums with Thelonius Monk, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Judy Hollidaythe list of sidemen goes on and on.

Mulligan’s light and airy baritone saxophone was the epitome of the the "cool" jazz sound. Yet its amazing how easily he could interact with many other musical styles: Ben Webster’s blustery tenor (the epitome of a "warm" sound); Monk’s percussive, fractured piano rhythms and dissonant tunes; the sweet, subtle tension between Mulligan and Chet Baker.

M_plays_mYou can pretty much grab any random Mulligan album (I put up a decent selection here) and not be disappointed. You will see scattered around a broad selection of different styles, eras, and musical cohorts.

Are you a Brubeck fan? Monk? Chet Baker? Webster? Desmond? Grab anything, sit back and enjoy.


Mulligan became known for his writing and arranging skills in his teens. He wrote for Johnny Warrington’s radio band in 1944, and for Gene Krupa’s band two years later.

BerlinMulligan hit the big time when he became known for his work (writing, arranging, and soloing) on Miles Davis’ defining album, "Birth of the Cool." Gerry’s compositions for this album included "Jeru," "Godchild," and "Venus de Milo," all songs that would remain in his repertoire long after the initial success of the album had died down. (This album launched and aided several careers of important jazz figures).

Mulligan’s last record came out as one of his most beautiful. Lovely tunes, clever arrangements, and understated fabulous players mark his last recording (John Scofield and
Grover Washington, Jr. play on this).

DragonflySimply timeless music.

Mulligan Discography (massive PDF)

NYT Mulligan Obit

Mulligan Videos after the jump


Read More

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

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