Inflation Insights: BLS Economist Shares CPI Details with JPMorgan, BlackRock, Citadel, and More

A Bureau of Labor Statistics economist’s discussions on consumer price index data with major firms including JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, Citadel, and others, stirs debate over equal access to crucial economic information.

Apr 10, 2024 - 11:35
Apr 10, 2024 - 12:33
Inflation Insights: BLS Economist Shares CPI Details with JPMorgan, BlackRock, Citadel, and More
JPMorgan, BlackRock Among BLS Economist’s CPI ‘Super Users’

An economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is part of the U.S. government, shared special information about inflation, a measure of how prices are rising, with some big companies on Wall Street. These companies include JPMorgan Chase & Co., BlackRock Inc., and others like Brevan Howard and Citadel. This sharing of information has made people question whether everyone has a fair chance to get this important economic data.

This economist had been sending emails to these companies, explaining parts of the consumer price index (CPI), which helps us understand inflation by looking at prices of things like housing and used cars. This CPI is very important because it can affect decisions made by businesses and the government.

The story first came out when the New York Times reported that the economist was calling this group of companies and investors “my super users.” The BLS said they don’t have an official list of “super users,” but it was found that the economist had indeed invited someone to join this email list.

The situation got more attention when an email mistakenly sent in February hinted at a change in how they calculate the cost of renting in the CPI. This mistake caused a lot of confusion, and the BLS had to tell people to ignore the email and later tried to explain the mistake on their website.

Because of this incident, there will likely be more checks on how the BLS shares its economic data. This data is very powerful and can influence the stock market and decisions made by the Federal Reserve, which helps manage the U.S. economy.

The BLS is now trying to fix the trust that was damaged by this incident. They want to make sure everyone believes they are sharing information fairly. Emily Liddel, an official at the BLS, said they are embarrassed and are working on being more trustworthy. The economist has been stopped from answering people’s questions for now as they review what happened, especially looking at whether he shared information that wasn’t supposed to be public yet.