If there is a bright spot in China's apparently looming economic slowdown, it may be in the basic price of things.
New numbers released Friday showed that inflation, a major trouble spot for China's government, had eased slightly, with prices up 6.1 percent in September over the same month last year. Inflation was 6.5 percent last month, so the news could be a welcome signal. Still, the pace of consumer price rises remains higher so far this year than last. The consumer price index rose 5.7 percent in the first nine months of this year, compare with 5.4 percent over the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Food remains among one of the fastest-rising costs.
Inflation has been a serious sore spot in China's recent economic boom, with fast-rising prices outpacing gains in incomes. The government has warned repeatedly that reining in inflation is critical to what is known here as maintaining social stability, or in other words, keeping people roughly satisfied with their standards of living. It does seem, however, that recent targets of keeping inflation to 3.5 percent or less are long forgotten.