Binyan Applebaum @ The New York Times' Economix shows that "Yes, We Have No Inflation":
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Inflation remained sluggish in May. Prices continued to rise at the slowest pace in at least half a century, up just 1.1 percent over the previous year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday. While some other measures of inflation are rising a little more quickly, the Federal Reserve regards this one as most accurate.
Slow inflation may sound like a good thing, but it’s not. Particularly not now.
Economic research suggests that inflation is best in moderation. Price increases lead to wage increases, which makes it easier to repay existing debts, like mortgages, and more attractive to incur new debts, like borrowing to start a company.
Inflation also functions as a kind of economic WD-40, easing shifts in the allocation of resources. It is easier for struggling companies and industries to adjust by withholding cost-of-living increases than by seeking to impose wage cuts.
Perhaps most importantly, moderate inflation keeps the economy at a safe distance from deflation, or general price declines, which can freeze activity as would-be buyers wait for lower prices. Such a buffer would be particularly valuable now because the Fed is already stretching the limits of its ability to stimulate the economy, leaving the United States unusually vulnerable to any new shocks...