Deflation talk these days is mostly centered on the euro zone and parts of emerging markets, but the U.S. is dancing on the brink itself.
In fact, if not for a comparatively high inflation rate in the Western quadrant, the U.S. itself actually would have had a negative consumer price index rating in August, driving its economy into the same deflationary malaise found in other slow-growth regions.
Of the four Census regions, only the West had a positive CPI for August, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it hasn't just been a recent occurrence.
"All price growth in the U.S. in the past eight months came from the West," the St. Louis Federal Reserve said in a report on geographic inflation influences. Inflation in the West has been a full percentage point above the other three regions, all of which experienced deflation.
Excluding the West, the national rate of inflation as measured by the CPI would have been -0.19 percent in August, as compared to the already anemic national rate of 0.2 percent, according to the St. Louis Fed. (The September reading will be released Thursday morning.)
Annualized inflation in the West was 1.3 percent in August. In the Northeast it was -0.1 percent, -0.2 percent in the South and -0.3 percent in the Midwest. Much of the deflationary pressure came through falling energy prices — down 9.5 percent annualized in the West, 14.5 percent in the Midwest, 18.3 percent in the East and 17.1 percent in the South.