The simple chart below from the American Enterprise Institute beautifully illustrates the absurd inflation of college tuition and textbooks over the past 20 years. In real terms, the cost of college has effectively doubled over that time period. Now what would cause such massive inflation? Could it be our government tripping over itself to provide cheap student loans for children to spend on vacations, iPads and kegs (i.e. “college”; see “What Student Loans Are Used For: Vacations, iPads, Kegs, Entertainment“). Or, per the Daily Caller, perhaps the issue is administrative bloat at our institutions of higher education:
The exact reason prices have increased so much has been hotly debated, but one critical factor at most schools is administrative bloat. While student to faculty ratios have remained relatively steady over time, the number of administrators and other non-teaching staff has exploded at schools across the country.
But we don’t want to stress out our young Millennials too much. We’re quite sure the debt burden associated with your $200,000 anthro degree will be socialized very soon.
For most experts, deflation, which they define as a general decline in prices of goods and services, is bad news since it generates expectations for a further decline in prices.
As a result, they hold, consumers postpone their buying of goods at present since they expect to buy these goods at lower prices in the future. This weakens the overall flow of spending and in turn weakens the economy.
Hence, such commentators hold that policies that counter deflation will also counter the slump.
If deflation leads to an economic slump then policies that reverse deflation should be good for the economy.
What would happen if the real rate of inflation was revealed? The entire status quo would immediately implode. Consider the immediate consequences to Social Security, interest rates and the cost of refinancing government debt.
Can we be honest and say that many of the reductions in value, quantity and quality are actually instances of fraud?
Yesterday, I showed how Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001 for everything from burritos to healthcare. This enormous loss of purchasing power is not reflected in the official measure of inflation, which claims inflation is subdued (1% or so annually).
But price inflation doesn’t necessarily reflect all the inflation that’s hidden in plain sight in smaller quantities and declining quality. We’ve all observed prices of consumer items remaining the same while the amount of the product we receive for our money is less than it was a few years ago. Continue reading »
In our household, we measure inflation with the “Burrito Index”: How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?
Since we keep detailed records of expenses (a necessity if you’re a self-employed free-lance writer), I can track the real-world inflation of the Burrito Index with great accuracy: the cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.
That’s a $160% increase since 2001; 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today. Continue reading »
Helicopter policies are not advocated in ‘a normal world’. They are however almost inevitable in the next recession. “Japan will be the flag bearer of fiscal stimulus.” Which will be sufficient to breath some inflationary spirit into the system. “But this is all febrile and can get over-turned by the slightest change in wind direction,” he said, tentative. “This will be the little inflation before the big helicopter-driven inflation.” But that will first require a crisis.
In what may be merely a peculiar case of serendipity, just last night we mentioned the name of the infamous president of Weimar Republic’s Reichsbank, Rudolf von Havenstein, in the context of the BOJ’s proud announcement that it now held more than a third of all Japanese government bonds at the end of March (so even more currently).
BOJ SAYS IT HELD 33.9% OF JGBS AT END-MARCH.
First one to 100% wins the Rudy von Havenstein economics prize
Well, either Citi’s Gregory Marks was following our amused observation, or in an act of odd confluence of thought invoked the spirit of Rudy von Havenstein completely independently, when overnight he unleashed a furious tirade at both negative rates and “utterly misguided” central bank policies in general and negative rates in particular in “Let’s Take Stock: The Efficacy and Merit of Negative Rates.”
It’s that time of year again. It’s open enrollment for health plans at my employer. They are biggest employer in Philly and have the most leverage possible with the insurance companies. They have such good leverage that my premiums are going up “only” 9.8% this year for a basic HMO plan. Based on what I hear from others, I should be thankful for just a 9.8% increase.
This isn’t a new development. Since I’ve been tracking all my expenditures using Quicken since 1991, I know exactly what my annual health insurance costs have been every year. Obamacare was passed in 2009 and began to be implemented in 2010. Obama declared that families could expect $2,500 of savings per year. I know for a fact my annual medical expenses were $2,000 higher in 2015 than they were in 2010. Continue reading »
… a hyperinflation in which the soaring stock market has failed to keep pace with the collapsing currency, thereby mocking all erroneous thought experiments that under hyperinflation being long the stock market is a sure hedge to currency destruction…
… we joked that it is unclear just where the country will find all the paper banknotes it needs for all its new currency. Continue reading »
Due to a “perfect storm” of inflationary factors – not the least of which being the continuing drop in oil prices – Canadians are seeing the effects of a weakening currency reflected in food prices at the supermarket.
$3 cucumbers, $8 for a head of cauliflower, grapes at $10 per bag – the spiraling cost of foods, particularly those imported from Canada’s neighbor to the south, has consumers there reeling from sticker shock. Continue reading »
Earlier this month, we documented the surging price of fresh produce in Canada, where the plunging loonie is creating a nightmare for shoppers in grocery aisles across the country.
Because Canada imports more than three quarters of its fresh fruits and vegetables, the inexorable decline of the Canadian dollar has driven up prices on everything from cucumbers to cauliflower to tomatoes, and as we showed via a series of tweets from incredulous supermarket shoppers, Canadians are not pleased.
“Three bucks. For a cucumber,” one shopper wrote.
“Had a similar reaction when I saw the price of cauliflower,” another said. “Welcome to the future..” Continue reading »
HILO, Haw. (INTELLIHUB) — After looking through our monthly expenses for our family of three, I was shocked to find that we are spending well over $2000 a month on groceries locally. So when I went to the grocery store I snapped a few pictures that may shock you as Hawaii food prices continue to skyrocket.
The effects of El Nino are starting to reach the dinner table, with global food prices rising the most in three years on supply concerns for everything from New Zealand milk to sugar in Brazil and Southeast Asian palm oil.
An index of 73 food prices increased 3.9 percent, the biggest jump since July 2012, to 162 in October, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization wrote in a report Thursday.
The return of the El Nino weather phenomenon is changing weather conditions around the world, damaging crops with too much rain in some areas and not enough in others. Continue reading »
Butter prices hit $3.10 per lb today in Chicago trading – a record high – as it appears the expectations of production increases after the EU milk quota system expired in March have proved “wildly optimistic.” Of course, no one should complain at the rising cost of staples like butter (or toilet paper), just ask Jamie Dimon… “let them eat iPhones.”
The government released their monthly CPI report this week. Even though it came in at an annualized rate of 3.6%, they and their mouthpieces in the corporate mainstream media dutifully downplayed the uptrend. They can’t let the plebs know the truth. That might upend their economic recovery storyline and put a crimp into their artificial free money, zero interest rate, stock market rally. If they were to admit inflation is rising, the Fed would be forced to raise rates. That is unacceptable in our rigged .01% economy. There are banker bonuses, CEO stock options, corporate stock buyback earnings per share goals and captured politician elections at stake.
The corporate MSM immediately shifted the focus to the annual CPI figure of 0.1%. That’s right. Your government keepers expect you to believe the prices you pay to live your everyday life have been essentially flat in the last year. Anyone who lives in the real world, not the BLS Bizarro world of models, seasonal adjustments, hedonic adjustments, and substitution adjustments, knows this is a lie. The original concept of CPI was to measure the true cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. It should reflect your true inflation of out of pocket costs to live a daily existence in this country. Continue reading »
While “Abenomics” has succeeded in boosting the stock market and food prices, it has utterly failed to raise wages. In fact, wages adjusted for inflation have plunged to the lowest since 1990. As such, a record number of households now describe their living conditions as “somewhat hard” or “very hard.” Continue reading »
While the benefits to banks and governments of banning physical cash are self-evident, there are downsides to the real economy and to household resilience.
You’ve probably read that there is a war on cash being waged on various fronts around the world. What exactly does a war on cash mean?
It means governments are limiting the use of cash and a variety of official-mouthpiece economists are calling for the outright abolition of cash. Authorities are both restricting the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from banks, and limiting what can be purchased with cash.
Having previously shown that money can buy happiness, it appears, as Bloomberg reports, that the cost of buying that happiness is soaring. With well-managed government-provided statistics on inflation, why would one look elsewhere for clues as to the declining standards of living across much of America… but look we did and with wages stagnant, the 2900% surge in prices to Disneyland since 1971 makes ‘the happeist place on earth’ a place only the wealthy can afford to visit.
On the surface, Canada’s 1.2% inflation is negligible, and barely enough to keep up with the pace of overall growth as mandated by a few central bank academics. It is below the surface, however, that one finds the scary truth. Because when stripping away the sliding energy prices (which at the recent pace of short covering among oil speculators are about to surge) some scary numbers emerge, such as a 3.8% monthly jump in food prices, primarily as a result of a whopping 30-40% increase in select meat prices in the last 8 months.
How do ordinary people – which excludes those who work in central banks and have taxpayers fund their everyday purchases, which allows them to fully ignore soaring food and rent costs – survive in an environment of soaring food prices?
As the following brief documentary by CBC’s The National reveals, food inflation means people have no choice but to eat “far less beef” than they used to, “or chicken.” Others are ok with the runaway food inflation: “it doesn’t matter to me, I buy the meat at the price it is and that’s fine with me” say a gentleman who likely works for a hedge fund and BTFD for a living. Continue reading »
Official data show the annual inflation rate in crisis-hit Ukraine has jumped to 45.8 percent.
The increase follows a steep acceleration of 10.8 percent in March, according to the country’s statistics office.
The eastern European nation, which had been the scene of a year of deadly clashes between its army and pro-Russia forces in the east, had a month-on-month inflation of 5.3 percent in February and 3.1 percent in January 2015. Continue reading »