Rupert Murdoch recently tweeted that we should expect "runaway inflation", or at least that’s what he had an assistant tweet, after the passage of the so-called fiscal cliff deal in Congress. The premise of the commentary centers around the simple fact that the dollar is a fiat currency and it’s strength dependent solely upon the perceived ability of the American taxpayer to finance the national debt. Load up on more debt and fail to make the necessary fiscal cuts and Joe and Jane World are going to say meh and begin shifting to some other currency, at which point, well…suffice it to say however, that inflation is precisely what the government and Federal Reserve want. That said, they might have to wait another month as the pricing of the PracticalDad Price Index is complete for January 2013 and the powers that be didn’t get their way.
There was a small decrease in the Total Index (47 grocery store items) from December’s 108.07 to January’s level of 108.01 (November 2010 = 100). However, there was a greater than full point drop in the Food only Index (the 37 food items comprised in the entire 47 item market basket), as the Food only Index dropped from December’s 114.33 to January’s 113.24. It wasn’t that so many items dropped across the board as much as one or two grocers of the three sampled were able to replace items with lower cost alternatives. The most dramatic example of this was the effect of Senator Bernie Sanders’ Dexcember 2010 filibuster upon diaper prices. I don’t know for certain whether there was a direct causal link, but Senator Sanders’ memorable refrain was …they can’t afford diapers… and several months later, a major grocer introduced a much lower cost box of diapers. This particular month, a grocer introduced a much less expensive spaghetti sauce, something done by another grocer early in 2012.
Month Total Index Food-only Spread
11/12 107.06 113.04 5.98
12/12 108.07 114.33 6.26
01/13 108.01 113.24 5.23
As the data above indicates, the spread – the differential between food items and non-food items – dropped as well. If the intent is to foster inflation, paying off debt with dollars of lesser value, then the Fed and government had better get back to the drawing board. Only Congress can get away with slacking off in such a fashion.
I honestly found it hilarious to find that Rupert Murdoch had a Twitter account. Smithers, come here and take a tweet…
And one last item for the record. I do not have a Twitter account, but found last year that some enterprising Canadian woman had taken my online name for a Twitter account and had been sending out coupon and sales notices. She’d also set up a Twitter account with a moniker that closely resembled another website’s name, doing the same thing. So if you find yourself looking at a tweet from "PracticalDad", rest assured that it’s not me.