The early 1980s evoke many memories for economists.

The Reagan Revolution reinvigorated Wall Street, as Oliver Stone’s film of the same name memorably depicts. But before that, the 1980s saw the end of an era that economists now call the Great Inflation. The data released on Tuesday brought back memories of that time.

Inflation in the United States hit a four-decade high of 8.5% in March as supply constraints took hold amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The consumer price index (CPI), which measures a basket of goods and services used by the average American, rose at its fastest annual rate since December 1981, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Gasoline and food prices were the main contributors to this jump, rising 48% and 8.8% respectively over the past year.

“The war in Ukraine had a strong impact on consumer prices in March… gas prices alone accounted for more than half of the monthly CPI increase,” the financial analyst said in Bankrate chief Greg McBride. “Food prices are also being hit, with food-to-home costs rising 1.5% over the past month, further straining household budgets.”

Core inflation, which excludes volatility in food and energy prices, rose 6.5% in March, marking the fastest 12-month jump since August 1982. But the pace of growth in Core consumer prices appear to be slowing, rising only 0.3% per month. month on month in March, compared to Wall Street’s estimate of 0.5%.

Now, there’s a big question on Wall Street: Is this the peak?

Despite the frightening headline inflation figure, markets reacted positively to the latest inflation report. And a number of major investment banks, including Bank of America, UBS and Morgan Stanley, were quick to call Tuesday’s numbers the end of rising inflation.

This is what those who call a peak see.

State-of-the-art forecasts from Bank of America, UBS and Morgan Stanley

“Headline inflation annual rates have both increased this month…. We believe both reflect the peak in annual rates,” Bank of America Research economists said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Bank of America sees headline inflation remaining elevated through the end of 2022, although this is the highest reading consumers should expect. Economists, led by Alexander Lin, see US inflation falling to a 6% year-over-year increase by December.

Economists said the recent rise in consumer prices was largely due to higher energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine, which are expected to decline over time, but noted that consumers are not expected to expect a drop in food prices anytime soon.

“Food has yet to feel the impact given the staggered transmission and is expected to remain hot throughout the year,” the Bank of America team wrote.

According to Bank of America, two key elements point to more sticky inflation than Americans might hope: rising transportation and accommodation costs. BofA economists said this reflected Americans’ transition from spending on goods to spending on services as pandemic restrictions ease.

Morgan Stanley also said it viewed Tuesday’s numbers as the “likely” peak of recent inflationary pressures after being surprised by a weaker-than-expected core inflation figure.

The bank’s economists, led by Ellen Zentner, wrote in a note that they expected rent inflation to be even higher in the March report.

“While we expect rental inflation to remain firm over the forecast horizon, the latest data helps to reduce the risk, in our view, of a further substantial acceleration in housing inflation rates. ‘month to month,’ the economists wrote.

UBS also calls peak inflation after correctly predicting Tuesday’s headline inflation figure would hit 8.5%, while core inflation hit 6.5% last week.

That could be good news for U.S. consumers, as the bank expects consumer prices to continue falling throughout the year, eventually falling to 3.5% by the end of the year. year as gasoline prices, which hit consumers hard in March, fall each month from April through November. .

Other economists are divided

Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, an independent economic research firm, told CNBC he also believed the March reading would “mark the peak” in inflation as energy prices rise. is starting to slow down and year-over-year comparisons are forcing headlines. lower.

However, other leading economists are not so optimistic. Blerina Uruci, a US economist at T. Rowe Price Group, an investment management firm, told the the wall street journal Tuesday that it notes a strong dynamic of inflation “in all areas”.

“The other red flag is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rise of COVID in China. This poses risks that the so-called normalization of supply chains will take longer to materialize,” he said. said Uruci.

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