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Here's Why the Fed Is Tracking The Cost Of Your Haircut Or Doctor's Visit

Personal consumption expenditures reflect the strength of the economy.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Bastian Riccardi
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Bastian Riccardi

Wall Street and the Federal Reserve will be closely looking at the Personal Consumption Expenditures for February, which could potentially impact the interest rates in the US. The report, which is used to create the the preferred inflation gauge of the Fed, will be released on Tuesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The trends for February will decide the future course of interest cuts which are massively anticipated by economists. Thus, the PCEPI can prove to be a crucial analysis, and here’s all you need to know about it.


Personal consumption expenditures are a measure of the spending on goods and services by the citizens of the country. As per the BEA, the index accounts for about two-thirds of domestic spending and is a significant driver of GDP.

The index is used to track changes in spending on consumer goods over time which can provide an idea of economic strength and how price changes can affect spending, per Investopedia. The BEA reports the total value of personal consumption expenditures which includes spending on motor vehicles and parts, furnishings, housing and utilities, recreational services (including haircuts), healthcare, transportation services, clothing and footwear, gasoline, and several other goods and services.

Since consumer spending is considered a leading economic indicator, the PCE is an important analysis as it sheds light on buying habits and savings levels.

The PCE is used by economists and analysts to make projections about future spending and economic growth. Most importantly, the BEA uses consumer spending to calculate its inflation gauge, the PCE Price Index, which is the primary inflation index used by the Federal Reserve to make monetary policy decisions.


In January, the PCEPI delivered disappointing data despite the inflation of goods slowing down. The report showed spikes in service costs which got consumer prices higher. According to CNN, the medical care services costs rose by 0.7%, and insurance and financial services also pushed inflation higher.

The PCE showed prices ticked 0.2% higher on a monthly in January, negating expectations of cooling inflation. The analysis also showed that disposable personal income remained flat from the previous month. Thus, the expectations of prompt rate cuts were thrown out of the window, affecting investor sentiment as well with the stock market closing lower.


February’s PCEPI is crucial as it will impact the Fed’s future outlook on interest rate cuts. Saira Malik, chief investment officer at Nuveen, told Before The Bell that the Feds have made it clear that they want to see broad disinflation and slower inflation to cut interest rates.

Malik added that the Fed doesn’t want to lose credibility by cutting interest rates too soon. Thus, officials are watching the consumer and the employment market as inflation can be sticky.


Malik further said that the drivers of service inflation so far have been, motor vehicle insurance, hospital insurance, and financial services, and two of those are structural, and one of those is temporary.

She also indicated that the markets are more fragile at this point versus where we were at the beginning of 2023. Malik predicted that if the PCEPI data continues to be disappointing, showing that inflation may be speeding up, it may further delay rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.