March’s Hot Inflation Report is a Political Blow to Biden

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The unexpected re-acceleration in price growth across the economy is at least a temporary setback for President Biden, who has been banking on cooling inflation to lift his re-election prospects.

Mr. Biden and his aides have publicly cheered the retreat of annual inflation rates over the last year, after watching the fastest price growth in 40 years dent the president’s approval ratings earlier in his tenure.

They have been anxious for inflation to fall even further, in order give relief to consumers and to potentially spur the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates — a move that would help to drive down borrowing costs for mortgages, car loans and other consumer credit. Mr. Biden has been particularly focused on home buyers, including young voters who are key to his electoral coalition, and who are struggling to afford high housing prices as mortgage rates remain around 7 percent.

Wall Street analysts saw Wednesday’s surprise pickup in the inflation rate as a sign that the Fed could leave rates on hold for months longer than expected. That could mean no cuts before the November election, a campaign where Mr. Biden’s Republican opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, has slammed Mr. Biden for both rapid price increases and high borrowing costs.

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