One of the things that drives me nuts is the regular reporting of the government's CPI inflation data and people accepting it as the gospel truth. It is well known that the government manipulates this data and is incentivized to keep it low. After all, if it looks lower than it is, then it seems as if they are being less irreponsible by printing money. I've been looking at this data on several fronts. One way to think about it is what the government is charging for postage stamps. After all, mail is run by the government, right? According to zealLLC.com, the CPI has increased at an annual average rate of 4.3% since 1960, while postage has gone up an average of 5.3%. So it's not your imagination, stamps are going up faster. postagesvsinfla But what about other stuff? We read in the paper all the time about how "cheap" stuff is. But is it? Maybe it seems cheaper than it did a year or so ago, but when you stack up average stuff over long periods of time -- a more sensible measure of inflation -- it certainly isn't that cheap. I was surprised to find this nice chart on AOL's WalletPop:
Product 1999 price 2009 price Change
Observation deck, Empire State Building, adult $4.00 $20.00 400.00%
Gold, one ounce $279.11 $1,106.00 296.26%
New York Times daily edition $0.75 $2.00 166.66%
Slurpee, largest, 7-11 $0.99 $2.12 114.14%
Superman comic book $1.99 $3.99 100.50%
Toll (auto), Golden Gate Bridge $3.00 $6.00 100.00%
Gallon of gasoline $1.30 $2.56 96.92%
Apple (AAPL) stock, one share $25.70 $198.10 92.69%
Average ticket price, Boston Red Sox $28.33 $50.24 77.34%
Cost to raise newborn to age 18 $165,630.00 $291,570.00 76.04%
Disneyland, one day adult ticket $41.00 $72.00 75.61%
NYC YMCA summer membership $125 $200 60.00%
Average expanded basic cable (per month) $31.22 $49.65 59.03%
Average ticket, NFL Denver Broncos $49.00 $76.65 56.63%
ATM transaction cost $2.28 $3.54 55.26%
Babysitting per hour $7-$10 $10-$15 50.00%
Budweiser, six pack of cans $4.01 $5.99 49.38%
Home value, average $119,600.00 $173,100.00 44.73%
Electricity per 500 kwh $45.38 $65.21 43.70%
Movie ticket $5.06 $7.18 41.90%
Time magazine, newsstand $3.50 $4.95 41.43%
Aspirin, Bayer, 100-count $3.47 $4.81 38.62%
Sugar, 5 lb. $2.13 $2.90 36.15%
Cheerios, one box $3.89 $5.15 32.39%
Stamp, USPS, 1st class $0.33 $0.43 30.30%
Cigarettes, Marlboro, per pack, Calif. $4.65 $5.95 27.96%
Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster $5,595.00 $6,999.00 25.09%
Average cell phone bill $40.24 $49.57 23.19%
McDonald's Big Mac $2.50 $2.99 19.60%
Levi's, men's, 505 $36.99 $44.00 18.95%
Coca-Cola, one liter $1.14 $1.34 17.54%
Ty Warner penthouse, Four Seasons, NYC, per night $30,000.00 $34,000.00 13.33%
Car, Toyota Camry,base model $17,518.00 $19,395.00 10.71%
Wedding, average cost $18,900.00 $20,398.00 7.93%
Nike shoes Jordon vs. LeBron James $150.00 $160.00 6.67%
Gallon of milk $2.88 $3.05 5.90%
Top 100 Music CD $13.65 $13.98 2.42%
Bestseller novel, Grisham vs.Patterson $27.95 $27.99 0.14%
Tom Cruise earnings, per movie $20 million $20 million 0.00%
Windows 1998 vs Windows 7 $209.00 $199.99 -4.31%
Coffee, Maxwell House, 34.5 oz. $9.99 $9.49 -5.01%
Average domestic airfare $329.00 $301.00 -8.51%
Credit card average APR 15.07% 13.71% -9.02%
Batteries, AA, 4, Energizer $3.99 $3.49 -12.53%
Wal-Mart stock $69.12 $52.80 -23.61%
$100,000 mortgage, 30 year fixed, total cost $265,154.54 $184,549.59 -30.40%
iMac desktop computer, Apple $1,499.00 $999.00 -33.36%
Hummel "To Market" #49 figurine $120.00 $79.95 -33.38%
Martini and Rossi Spumante, 375 ml $12.99 $8.29 -36.18%
Prime rate 8.50% 3.25% -61.76%
Source: AOL WalletPop Now, you might notice, some stuff has gone down, but most of it has gone way, way up! The elements that have gotten cheaper are driven by technology, such as cars and computers. They are benifitting from enormous innovation. The Empire State Bulding observation deck, apparently, is not. I was also somewhat shocked to see that Tom Cruise has not gotten a pay raise in 10 years. Time to call the agent.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 16:37 pm and is filed under Macro.
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