Friday, April 23, 2010

Update on the Inflation Debate


Brian Wesbury and Scott Grannis remain concerned about inflation, citing the recent Producer Price report from the BLS. I remain an inflation skeptic based on the two charts above, which show that the 10-15% producer price inflation in the 1970s (bottom chart) was accompanied by much, much higher money growth (top chart). The core ingredient of inflation (producer or consumer) is money growth, and there just doesn't seem to be enough M2 money growth to generate 1970s-era inflation.

49 Comments:

At 4/23/2010 9:02 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

first off, the PPI calculation is not done the same way it was in the 70's and would read lower now, so this is not an apples to apples comparison.

second, there was a clear lag in the 70's where money supply growth was quite high for several years before inflation picked up. notice that when the PPI increase came, it was an extremely sudden spike.

finally, are we to think that 5% PPI during a recovery this anemic is NOT a sign of inflation? it seems to argue the opposite. anyone looked at food and energy prices lately?

 
At 4/23/2010 9:13 AM, Blogger Dr William J McKibbin said...

I too remain cautious regarding inflation. If we use gold prices as a proxy for inflation since 1968, it seems more likely that inflation will match the risk free rate between now and 2025. More at:

http://wjmc.blogspot.com/2010/04/course-of-inflation.html

http://wjmc.blogspot.com/2010/04/course-of-inflation-ii.html


http://wjmc.blogspot.com/2010/04/course-of-inflation-iii.html

Thank you for the opportunity to comment...

 
At 4/23/2010 9:16 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"anyone looked at food and energy prices lately?"...

Good points morganovich and if the McClatchy rag is to be believed then there is this: Many Americans struggling with rising rental housing costs

Its the McClatchy's typical 'women, children, minorities hardest hit' story...

 
At 4/23/2010 9:39 AM, Anonymous Hopium said...

Personally I think we are heading to or very close to what we call the

" Havenstein moment "

 
At 4/23/2010 9:43 AM, Blogger Eric said...

Two factors happened since 1970's contributed to low inflation rate: 1. Technology innovations drastically reduced the cost of communication and conducting businesses and and 2. Active participation of former communist countries, China and other emerging countries in productive commercial activities.

These two factors increased supply of products and reduced PPI.

 
At 4/23/2010 9:47 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Hopium someone I know who thinks gold is a good idea (I don't) sent something he reads all the time and today it was this: Hyperinflation Looms – The Dollar Arrives at Its ‘Havenstein Moment’...

Is this or something similer what you read?

 
At 4/23/2010 11:26 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

juandos-

that's an interesting article. i'm friendly with john williams, and i think he makes some excellent points and love his site.

http://www.shadowstats.com/

it's worth subscribing to.

however, the article leaves out one possible mitigating issue:

velocity of money.

money can move a great deal faster than it used to, so that meet some of the need for more cash. you don't need more dollars (systemwide) to cover transactions of you can spend the existing ones more times.

it's very difficult to guess how that nets out, but one can certainly say that the economy has a better ability to use velocity to smooth out such issues than it did in the 30's.

 
At 4/23/2010 11:30 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Moganovich, etal

Inflation? Fugitaboutit

OIl prices respond to global demand and money supplies. It is a global market. China's economy is growing at 11 percent annual rate, and their money supply is up 22 percent in last year. Guess where demand is growing for oil. Oil demand in US and Europe is flat and has been for decades.

Additionally, oil prices are influenced by OPEC (which took 4 mbd off market) and thug states with destroyed oil industries, such as Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq. If Chavez wrecks his oil industry (and he has) that boosts oil prices. The Fed? Who cares? BTW, Venezuela's supplies of heavy oil dwarf Saudi Arabia. Chavez is an idiot.

Natural gas prices are soft. Why ? Fed action? No, there has been genius technologies that tap shale gas. We have epic supplies of shale gas for generations. Again, gas is a global market.

Maybe 30 years ago one could watch the Fed and commodities prices and draw conclusions, Not now. Our GDP is big, but shrinking relative to the globe. There are 2.3 billion people in India and China and 300 million in the US.

The Chinese yuan is pegged to the dollar, and of course, that means vice-versa, even if we don;t want it to be.

If the price of oil rises in yuan, then it rises in dollars.

Gold? Gold is a medieval wealth storage medium, and a poor one at that. Gold is for the tin-foil hat crowd. Forget gold.

Gold prices are up as Indian and Chinese speculators have more disposable income. Gold is worth what the next guy will pay for it. Gold fell from late 1980 to 2000s. You lost money for 20 year and did not collect a dividend.

Inflation?

The last two Fed chiefs have been Greenspan and Bernanke. Is having dour-faced Republicans a recipe for inflation? I don't think so. If anything, our money supply is not robust enough (Cato Institute has written this).

I would prefer some inflation anyway. No way America can ever pay off its debt without some inflation.

 
At 4/23/2010 11:49 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

benny-

keep hoping man.

sure, there's no inflation so long as you don't, eat, drive, or rent a house.

CPI is rigged. calculated using pre clinton methodology (constant standard of living as opposed to a slide down using hedonic adjustements, geometric weighting, and an incredibly questionable owner equivalent rents figure) CPI is already over 9%.

http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts

the blue line is not some made up measure. it's just the way it used to be done by the BLS.

i don't know what you are seeing, but in SF prices are soaring. rents, restaurant meals, gas, parking, groceries, you name it. inflation here is well over 10%.

the Constant commodity index is up from a 322 low in 2008 to 481, right about where it began 2008, which was a decade high at the time.

commodities are up 49% from 2008 and you doubt that will flow through to prices? that seems a pretty difficult statement to support.

that same index was 191 at the beginning of 2002. it's up
151% from then to now, averaging about 12% a year compounded. sure, you can take some slack out in reduced profits, but that's been done. these costs will flow through. they are already flowing through.

inflation is already here. we're just cooking the numbers to pretend it isn't.

 
At 4/23/2010 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful visually overlaying the two charts to draw conclusions. The chart dimensions look to be the same, but the duration along the "X" axis is different.

 
At 4/23/2010 1:25 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Morganovich-

Jeez, In L.A. everything is cheaper.

Rents are down, commercial, industrial and residential.

You can rent a nice office in downtown L.A. for $2 a sf a month--less than what it cost in 1979!!! And less than 2007.

Even Westside rents are down from peaks, by about 30 percent in two years, and still squishy.

I own a small warehouse near downtown L.A. I could get a dollar a sf just by one Craigslist ad twp years ago. Now I am lucky to rent it out at 65 cents.

Residential rent is down, they say by 5 percent or so. House prices off by half from the peak. If half off isn't deflation, then what is?

Wages are soft as fresh dung.

Speaking of dung, you can buy a hamburger for $1 at Burger King, Macs, etc.

I just bought a 10-lb bag of potatoes for $1 at Super King grocery store. I found a frozen burrito at Walgreens I can eat for lunch for $1.99. I was paying $3 for cheapest lunch in mid-1980s.

I used to know a lot about the CPI, but a common concern is that consumers migrate away from items that are rising in price. It overstates inflation. Beef up? Buy chicken etc.

No way we have inflation in L.A. Deflation is more like it.

I don't know the SF market, but it sounds like an outlier, if what you say it true. People always want to live in SF and Manhattan. Prices happen there that happen no where else in the US.

And you don't answer the q: You say you are a monetarist, so why would the conservative Republican appointee Bernanke allow bad inflation? He won't.

We have a secular boom brewing in property and stock markets. You have been gloomy from 6,000 to 11,000.

 
At 4/23/2010 1:43 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

you're asking me why i fear that "helicopter ben" might underestimate inflation?

he's a pure academic who is of the greenspan bubble school.

he's so terrified on deflation that he's inflating massive bubbles in financial and government debt markets. he has no idea what kind of fire he's playing with. he's so focused on his depression scholarship that he can;t see what's happening and the gigantic asset bubbles.

he's every bit as stupid as greenspan. inflation is already over 9% in the US before they adjust it to make it look low. that happened under greenspan and clinton.

current CPI calculations only make sense if you accept a declining quality of life.

read this:

http://www.shadowstats.com/article/consumer_price_index

i think you'll be surprised how cooked the CPI number is.

it's also quite interesting how well the overall old CPI lines up with commodities prices.

makes me highly confident that the new number is out of line.

even the reported (underreported) PPI number is +5%, you think that doesn't flow through to CPI?

 
At 4/23/2010 1:49 PM, Blogger Rodger Malcolm Mitchell said...

Contrary to popular faith, the relationship between money creation (aka misleadingly called "deficits") is not clear. See: http://rodgermmitchell.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/more-thoughts-on-inflation/

In the past 50 years at least, the prime mover for inflation seems to have been energy (probably oil), not deficits.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

 
At 4/23/2010 1:52 PM, Blogger juandos said...

morganovich says: "however, the article leaves out one possible mitigating issue: velocity of money."...

Exactly! Maybe its a minor detail but NOT an unimportant one...

Yes, Shadow Government Statistics I've had it bookmarked for quite sometime and in fact I think it was something you'd commented on using info from that site was the reason I went to it...

"Jeez, In L.A. everything is cheaper"...

ROFLMAO!

L.A. on which planet?


Los Angeles: Second Most Costly Place
In the United States

 
At 4/23/2010 1:52 PM, Blogger juandos said...

morganovich says: "however, the article leaves out one possible mitigating issue: velocity of money."...

Exactly! Maybe its a minor detail but NOT an unimportant one...

Yes, Shadow Government Statistics I've had it bookmarked for quite sometime and in fact I think it was something you'd commented on using info from that site was the reason I went to it...

"Jeez, In L.A. everything is cheaper"...

ROFLMAO!

L.A. on which planet?


Los Angeles: Second Most Costly Place
In the United States

 
At 4/23/2010 3:03 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Juandos-

L.A. is expensive--but less so than two years ago.

And meanwhile, the DJI is over 11,000 and still rising.

Sorry if you missed the rally. Still time to get out on the playing field. It better than peeing in your pants and sitting on the sidelines.

 
At 4/23/2010 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have some unique circumstances here. I guess it could be called price flexibility. Renters right now have great price flexibility. They can move to lower rents. When real estate prices were going up, owners had great price flexibility, they could sell into higher prices. However, owners are now stuck with higher mortgages and unable to refi at lower rates because of the declining market value of homes. So they are stuck in some ways with high debts, lower income. Also, the government wants to raise taxes and give more to people who don't produce anything.

The price of education never comes down. If you have kids in college you are paying through the nose. Every time the government increases aid to education, the colleges raise tuition.

God help the middle class if they lose their jobs. So let's bury them with teacher taxes and government employees rich pensions.

If you are single or retired, have no dependents, a renter, you are a pig in slop.

 
At 4/23/2010 3:49 PM, Blogger OA said...

One clear thing from those graphs is that they turn on a dime. I think most people could get really close to forecasting CPI inflation for the coming 12 months. But there's a lot of moving parts to forecast 2 and 3 years out.

One thing that keeps popping up in stories is input prices are rising rapidly.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Wholesale-prices-rise-in-apf-299827519.html?x=0&.v=4

"Several economists noted that the wholesale price report showed increasing costs at earlier stages of production. ... Crude goods prices, excluding food and energy, rose 6 percent in the last 12 months, the department said."

"(wholesale) Food prices jumped by 2.4 percent in March, the most since January 1984. Vegetable prices soared by more than 49 percent, the most in 15 years. A cold snap wiped out much of Florida's tomato and other vegetable crops at the beginning of this year."

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ppi.t02.htm

Check out the "Crude Materials for Further Processing" category towards the bottom. Or even the Intermediate products. There's real demand being pulled through.

Things that are stuck to Calfornia like rent may be soft, but with the net exodus and high unemployment, why wouldn't they be? Things that are mobile like commodities are generally up. Those aren't as influenced by local price levels and demand. Asia never stopped growing, they just slowed.

Food and energy are excluded because they are too volatile. But with many input costs going up double digits, how can those not be passed through? It's not as if taxes and regulatory compliance costs are going down to offset them.

 
At 4/23/2010 3:56 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon 3.20-

the other side of that is that rents are going up dramatically as fewer people can qualify for loans.

in SF, pretty much every mortgage is a super jumbo. qualifying for a loan has become very difficult. most folks cannot get one. this is driving rents WILD as 2 income professional couples rent because they cannot buy.

a 2br that was $3,000 3 years ago is now $4500 and rising.

i think the low end of the market may be a little less inflationary, but at the middle and high end (and $4500/mo is not the high end) prices are galloping.

this is an unusual market to be sure, but all in all, higher interest rates will drive higher rents.

 
At 4/23/2010 5:13 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Inflation has been grossly overstated, because quality improvements have been grossly understated.

Throughout the U.S. economic boom, in 2002-07, supply easily met demand or exceeded demand, and during the subsequent recession, the destruction of supply was less than the fall in demand. So, the U.S. had low inflation or disinflation, and then deflation, even with commodity prices reaching record highs or at historically high levels compared to other decades.

Moreover, a higher level of inflation would increase saving instead of spending. However, the U.S. had a massive consumption boom, in the 2000s, in part, because of low prices (which induced demand).

 
At 4/23/2010 5:19 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

peak-

quality adjustments (called hedonic adjustments) are both made only in one direction (assuming all products get better, which is not true) and are also swamped by geometric weightings that substitute lower priced items for higher in the consumption basket as if flank steak were a substitute for rib eye or a banana republic jacket is a replacement for prada. sure, they play the same role by feeding or clothing you, but you are clearly getting an inferior product when you trade down.

saying that you ate hamburger instead of steak because the price of steak went up and that that means prices went down is pretty questionable logic.

 
At 4/23/2010 5:23 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

also:

your statement about higher inflation driving increased savings is untrue.

first off, price increases in necessities like food, fuel, and shelter do not alter demand much. you still need to eat, commute, obtain and heat shelter.

secondly, if inflation is high, that drives the desire to consume NOW before it becomes more expensive. inflation drives consumption (particularly if real interest rates are low or negative). inflation is a tax on savings.

deflation (as in japan) is what drives high savings and deferred consumption.

 
At 4/23/2010 5:32 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

Been in business a long time.
The same one bedroom apartment I once rented out for $300 is now at $1550.
That has happened gradually over the last 25 years.
That sounds like real inflation to me. I expect it to continue. I believe it is from government intervention.
"inflationists" control the economy.
I don't really like it. I think inflation is a mistake. It harms us all. But there it is.

 
At 4/23/2010 5:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, if quality declines, without a greater fall in price, consumers shift to a substitute good, or demand will fall. Bargains increase demand. Otherwise, demand falls.

Dr. Perry has shown spending on housing, food, and clothing relative to income have declined, and it's at or near the all-time low.

Your statement about demand increasing before inflation accelerates is similar to a wage-price spiral. If prices rise without a rise in wages, demand will fall.

The cost of living in Japan remains too high. So, demand is low.

 
At 4/23/2010 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are worried aboout inflation,borrow as much money as you can and buy something durable.

Pay it off with cheap dollars, and sell it later.

 
At 4/23/2010 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cost of living in Japan remains too high. So, demand is low.

Hard to imagine the demand for living is low.

 
At 4/23/2010 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe it is from government intervention.

Yup. Ever try to get a building permit? Existing owners fight like mad to keep anyone else from getting what they have.

A conservationist is the last SOB to get his cabin inthe woods.

 
At 4/23/2010 7:29 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

Gold? Gold is a medieval wealth storage medium, and a poor one at that. Gold is for the tin-foil hat crowd. Forget gold.

I'd say, based on that statement alone, forget your post. Gold is considered nothing but an investment now. If paper currencies were to lose their value, that would change and you'd be surprised just how "medieval" we could become.

Of course, there's this one, too.

I would prefer some inflation anyway. No way America can ever pay off its debt without some inflation.

Yeah, it's great to see your life savings wiped out by politicians.

 
At 4/23/2010 9:14 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Rather than gold I would own platinum, it has real uses other than jewelery. (Much of our industry depends upon platinum catalysts) If you go back you find that gold did not really control inflation it just made inflation/deflation dependent on the rate of gold mining. Find more (or confiscate more as the spanish did) and there is inflation find less deflation. The gold bugs memory is just to short.
I would have said silver until the digital photo revolution took away the biggest industrial use of silver. For silver its interesting that the gold silver ration is so different than 120 years ago 16 then in the 50s now.

 
At 4/23/2010 10:36 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

peak-

substituting low quality good for high does not mean there is no inflation. buying a plastic $20 blender vs a $100 steel one is not a perfect substitute. the former wears out in 2 years.

try yo buy a toilet as good as the ones 20 years ago. it's forbidden by law.

clothes used to last ages, now they are disposable.

many, many products are significantly inferior to what they used to be, especially food. you thing the crappy tomatoes at safeway are equivalent to the locally grown vine ripened stuff our grandparents ate? go buy those and you'll see inflation. go buy beef not full of hormones and antibiotics and it's $30/pound.

you argument about the cost of living in japan blocking consumption doesn't make any sense.

if the cost of living is "too high", then how do they save so much?

where dies that money come from? why are they so willing to leave it in near zero yield postal accounts? it's because of deflation.

inflation is a tax on savings. deflation rewards them. you have my statement backwards. i'm saying that expectation of inflation drives consumption. if you think prices will be higher tomorrow, buy now.

the nominal prices of those items have not declined.

are you seriously arguing that the nominal price of housing is near an all time low? or food? that's ludicrous. you are mistaking his analysis of cost as a % of income with inflation.

 
At 4/23/2010 11:22 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich,

Most consumers would buy the plastic blender for $20 than the steel one for $100, because the steel one is not even close to five times better than the plastic one, and when the plastic one wears out in two years, a better one will be on sale for $20 or less. Also, when the blender was selling at $100, fewer people could afford it.

Clothes have never been a durable good.

In Japan, when you go into the store and your favorite box of cereal is $8, you may not buy it. However, if it falls to $2, you may buy five boxes. So, lower prices induce demand. Also, you buy, because you may expect the price to rise back to $8, which is zero inflation :)

You're less likely to buy a new car when you believe the price is too high, including relative to your income. So, you may save some or most of the $30,000 instead of spending it all, particularly when there's no Social Security.

If you're worried about inflation, buy TIPS, gold, or commodities.

The real economy is more important than the nominal economy.

 
At 4/24/2010 1:05 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, also, you stated: "inflation drives consumption...deflation (as in japan) is what drives high savings "

The causality is consumption drives inflation and saving drives deflation.

 
At 4/24/2010 1:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's not inflation maybe it's stagflation.

 
At 4/24/2010 6:07 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Brian Wesbury along with Robert Stein have the following on Forbes: Higher Inflation, Not Hyperinflation

Note these lines: Right now, the public debt of the U.S. government is $13 trillion. However, about $4.5 trillion is debt the government owes itself, through various trust funds. Also, the Federal Reserve owns about $800 billion in Treasury securities. While the Treasury pays interest to the Fed, the Fed pays this right back to the Treasury. As a result, the government's debt burden is about $7.7 trillion. Of this, $600 billion is in inflation-protected securities, leaving fixed debt at $7.1 trillion...

Now I ask, what in reality is actually/realistically 'inflation protected'?

 
At 4/24/2010 9:48 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

peak-

the causality flows both ways. inflation expectations also drive demand. if you think that a house is about to get bought, you step in and bid, if you think the market is cold and they will come down, you wait. it's not a purely linear system. cutting the price on your house in dec 2008 did not have the same effect it would in dec 2007.

here are some food prices:

http://data.bls.gov:8080/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet;jsessionid=6230241424ca7b4c386c

price of ground beef up around 50% since 2000. that's not inflation?

bread is up 30% in the same period.

http://data.bls.gov:8080/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet;jsessionid=62309675262f4f1147e2

but a cheap blender wears out, so you need to buy a new one ever 2 years. over a decade, you'd be better off with the good one. inflation is apples to apples costs. once you add substitution, it becomes a subjective measure.

good quality clothes are still available. they are just more expensive. my j crew sweaters from high school are still in perfect shape 20 years later. the new ones of the same brand are shot
in a just a few. it's because they are LOWER QUALITY.

that never goes into hedonic adjustments.

savings are nominal, not real. US treasuries have negative real interest rates using pre clinton CPI. TIPS are indexed to a CPI that understates inflation. both will lose you money.

on japan, you are falling into the classic trap of trying to eat like an american in tokyo. THAT is very expensive. but it's not that expensive to eat there if you like fish and rice. it's much cheaper than new york.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:11 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, you said: "the causality flows both ways. inflation expectations also drive demand. if you think that a house is about to get bought, you step in and bid."

That proves the causality is consumption drives inflation.

However, it should be noted, surpluses and shortages also influence inflation.

I agree food prices, and other commodity prices, are way up, basically because of global demand (developing countries are becoming wealthier, e.g. through the Law of Comparative Advantage).

I stated before, if price falls more than quality, then it's a bargain and induces demand (consumers aren't stupid).

Your belief that the CPI is understated defies the Law of Supply and Demand. based on aggregate data, at least over the past 30 years.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

price of ground beef up around 50% since 2000. that's not inflation?

Beef is notorious of price fluctuations because of the long lead time. the margins are so thin a farmer can't feed a cow that won't pay out, so they get dumped. then when prices return it takes time to build up the herd.

Expect food prices to climb as China and other nations eat more meat, and food production has to compete with energy production.

A single data point doesn't define a trend.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morganovitch: seems to me Peak trader is mostly correct, except for buying gold.

That strikes me as pure speculation, suitable for when you really think the walls are coming down and you may need to run.

Otherwise, I prefer to always invest in something that makes something: I'd prefer investing in a gold mine to investing in gold.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you thing the crappy tomatoes at safeway are equivalent to the locally grown vine ripened stuff our grandparents ate?

I grow my own for that reason. No inflation here. But Safeway has crappy tomatoes in midwinter when I have none.

Safeway can sell a chicken cheaper than I can feed one. The chicken isn't the same, either,but you don't ahve to live with and kill a chicken.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:23 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Anon, India had a drought, which caused food prices to soar and spilled-over to the rest of the economy causing double-digit inflation.

In India, 43% of income goes to food (9% to transportation and only 8% for housing).

 
At 4/24/2010 11:08 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

peak-

i really don't think you understand what inflation is.

inflation is in the increase in the price of a good or service from time a to time b.

that's what CPI used to measure.

you are arguing that inflation is the change in the cost of living basket after i have stopped buying things that have gone up in price and bough more of the ones that go down.

sure, that may be a measure of how consumption baskets work, but it's not a measure of quality of life.

trading down from steak to hamburger does not mean you are as well off as you were. if you are willing to call a declining standard of life "no inflation" i suppose that's up to you, but i view that as a decline in my buying power. are you going to be happy eating ramen noodles in your retirement.

holding money spend constant but getting less for it is still inflation. your purchasing power has eroded.

to anon regarding food prices:

look at the data. it's not that volatile over the past decade. the up trend is clear. same with bread. use the tool yourself, you can look at hundreds of categories. most are way up. sure, some are not, but most are.

anon 7.01 - that is exactly right. the best way to hedge inflation is to borrow lots of money. if you use traditional CPI as opposed to the new version, the borrowing binge of the last decade suddenly looks a great deal more rational. sure, they leverage got overcooked, but that was mostly to do with federally mandated subprime lending.

if you had borrowed money in 2009 and bought stocks or virtually any commodity you'd be way, way ahead.

longer term, it's worth considering that western governements have all made this massive borrowing bet as well. they will benefit massively from inflation, especially if they can convince us (by CPI manipulation) that it isn't happening and keep their cost of capital at levels where the real rate of return is negative (as it is now).

these same governments are all seeking more control over and politicizing their central banks.
having someone who benefits from inflation in charge of the printing press is a very dangerous combination.

even if they truly believe their CPI number, rigging your car speedometer to only read 20% of your speed won't make a crash any less violent, likely it will make it more so as you won't expect it.

 
At 4/24/2010 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, the increase in minimum wage is increasing costs, preventing price declines.

 
At 4/24/2010 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO

 
At 4/24/2010 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on, morganovich...!!

 
At 4/25/2010 12:57 PM, Anonymous M McCune said...

The CPI is only an average. When I remember back to 1998 we had low inflation then too; so low in fact the Treasury started issueing Inflation-protected securities as a low-cost way of financing the public debt. The demise of the Phillips curve was announced as we had relatively low unemployment simultaneously with low inflation. Someone coined the term "Goldi-locks economy" for that time period since it was not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Oil was less than $10/bbl, my retirement account was growing great, my home was appreciating, I had three weeks paid vacation and a little raise, I bought a new vehicle; life was good. All assets were up, costs and liabilities were low.

I term the current era the Big Bad Wolf era (he huffs and puffs and blows your house down)because all the costs and liabilites (property taxes, minimum wages, unemployment taxes and wage bases) are up, and the assets (incomes, home prices, IRA/401k's) are low. Even though the CPI indicates low inflation, it' is not like the same low inflation a decade ago. Since it's an average, today is like living in that place where the average temperature is 75 degress year-round, but you find that it is Death Valley where the nights are below 40 degrees and the days are above 115 degrees - the worst of both worlds, but still an average. The Cpi by itself, tells us very little.

Deflation or inflation? When an hour of your labor buys 25% less than it did a year ago it sure feels like inflation. -MGM.

 
At 4/25/2010 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to investigate whether the demise of the american economy since say 1980 has tracked the increase in migration from less developed countries. Maybe there is a connection.

 
At 4/28/2010 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PPI over the last 12 months has risen over 6%. At this point in the recovery in 2002 and 1992, PPI was up 1.5%. Even in 1976, the PPI according to the BLS was up less than 6% 12 months after the 1974-75 recession

 
At 4/28/2010 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'These two factors increased supply of products and reduced PPI.""


Actually that is wrong. China, and eastern European countries and India have had the effect of increasing the PPI as they use more inputs but lowering the CPI as they produce cheap goods.

 
At 4/28/2010 7:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""peak-

i really don't think you understand what inflation is.

inflation is in the increase in the price of a good or service from time a to time b.

that's what CPI used to measure.""



Inflation is when too much money chases too few goods. It is always and everywhere a money phenomenon

 

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