Thursday, January 17, 2008

Squeeze me tight, baby

No, tighter. Ooh, you know how I like it.

New data from the Labor Department confirm what most middle-class Americans already know: Inflation is squeezing them.

As consumer prices rose by 4.1 percent last year, the highest rate since 1990, the prices of basic essentials such as food, gasoline and health insurance climbed far more steeply, explaining why so many Americans are telling pollsters that the economy is their chief concern.
There has to be some good news in there, right?
The inflation news would be worse if not for China. Prices for the types of consumer goods that are coming almost exclusively from China were down last year as in earlier years, serving to hold back broader U.S. consumer inflation.

Apparel prices fell 0.4 percent in 2007, footwear prices fell 0.9 percent and the price of furniture and bedding — China- and Brazil-dominated products that once were the domain of the Carolinas — fell by 0.9 percent.
The price of toys, which now come mostly from China, fell 4.7 percent last year. It's fallen every year since 1997.
Ha! Told you so! Sure, it's all the stuff tainted with lead and chemicals, but as Wal-Mart truthfully proclaims with mucho gusto, 'save money, live better!'
Think how cheap the iodine, skin creams and bandages will be!

In case you were still harboring some doubts about these complex economic issues, fret not, mes amis. I'm sure if we just cut taxes, everything will be both hunky and dory.


Mary Ellen said...

What worries me is the plans that Bush has been trying to shove through Congress to allow meat (chickens) to be shipped in from China.Bird flu anyone? He said he would also like to have the chicken farmers raise the chickens here and then send them to China to be slaughtered and then sent back here. Huh? The USDA would have no control over cleanliness of the plants that are doing the slaughtering, it would put our own chicken farmers out of business and Bush wanted to add the cherry on top....he doesn't want there to be labels showing consumers where the chickens are raised or slaughtered.

So far, the House has fought him off, but I won't be surprised to find out that with the new inflation numbers, the Republican party will try it again.

I don't eat meat, but I'm beginning to think I have to put in my own garden and start canning my own food.

Mauigirl said...

Great analysis, Randal. And yet the GOP continues to contend that tax cuts will solve it all...

It will be interesting to see what my company gives out in raises this year, which will be announced soon; historically they have been very low since inflation was low. If they continue in the same range as before, my raise will not keep pace with inflation!

Mary Ellen, that chicken thing makes no sense at all! Thanks for pointing this idiocy out. I can't imagine that shipping the chickens to China and back could be cost-effective. What is he smoking?

I must continue to buy all produce and meat at Whole Foods!

Randal Graves said...

ME, wait. What? We send our chickens to China, who chop them up, then send the pieces parts back? Who dreamed that plan up, one of his drunken nephews?

I love dead animal parts, but we really try to go with the local farm, free range kind of stuff. I know organics are sort of 'in' nowadays, I just hope it stays that way so the prices start to come down. The only thing companies listen to is our wallet.

mauigirl, hell, it wouldn't surprise me if they go as low as possible on your raises. That chart is what never gets mentioned when the econ wonks like Cokehead Larry blather on about how core inflation is steady. Sure, we'll all sit at home, never go anywhere while we eat nothing in the dead of winter.

no_slappz said...

Since there has been speculation on dr. monkey's site, my physical description follows:

Height: 5'11"; weight: 180 lbs; hair color: brown; eye color: brown. Lean build resulting from good diet and weight training.

Daily shower and shave.

no_slappz said...


You ought to look into the milk cartels that control milk prices in many parts, if not all, of the US.

At the convenience store near my house, the price of milk is $4.29 a gallon. But at a nearby mid-sized market (not a supermarket, just a big market) the price is $3.39 a gallon.

In the nearby store milk is a high-profit item and at the other market it is not. Both markets depend on illegal aliens to keep the places running.

Meanwhile, as you probably know, we already import bandages from China. Chinese manufacturers are trying to match US quality standards. They are getting closer.

Lastly, there are 80 billion barrels of untapped oil reserves in the US. Those reserves are off-limits to drillers. Those reserves are in Alaska and in coastal waters.

If we were to tap those reserves, world oil prices would drop. Probably falling to less than $50 a barrel. China has been successful in its efforts to increase production from its oil fields. China now produces about half as much as the US produces.

Since 2000, Russian production has risen by more than half. But due to the dunce running Venezuela, production down there has dropped by about 17% since 2000. Venezuelan production will get worse as Chavez increases his government control of his country's oil industry.

Mary Ellen said...

Randal- I did a post about this a long time ago. Bush has been pushing to allow China to send their chickens to us and yes, he wants the chickens that are raised in the US to be processed in China. Here's an article that will make your hair stand on end. The third page is really maddening!

China can threaten us plenty to do what they want, they own us now, thanks to Bush.

My Inner French Girl said...

You know what's weird, though? I've been tracking grocery prices for a couple of years and noticed that organic milk costs exactly the same as it did in 2006. Don't know why. Maybe it's just another part of living in a very isolated city. But I'm grateful that something remains stable in the midst of all this uncertainty.

Marjorie (with the 1995 Geo Prizm that gets 50 mpg on the freeway -- woo hoo!)

Randal Graves said...

ME, boy, I'm suddenly not hungry.

Marjorie, that IS strange and an anomaly, I'd wager. Though I'm going to start keeping track of that product, just out of curiosity. 50 mpg? Impressive!

My Inner French Girl said...


I buy it from Safeway at $2.69/half gallon. It's been the same price (for Safeway Club members) since I first moved to this town a couple of years ago. It's cheaper than the Organic Valley one they sell at the local health food store.

Ah, my beautiful, beautiful Geo. I don't know what I'd do without her. Of course, the only reason she gets such great gas mileage is because a) she's the last of the Japanese-made Geos before Chevy bought them, and b) she's made of tissue paper. But man, it's nice to have her when I go to the gas station and hear people bellyachin' about paying $75-100 to fill up, while I blissfully spend no more than $30.


Mary Ellen said...

I was just talking to my daughter in PA and she said that milk is $4.00 a gallon and there is a law that says they can't stores can't sell it cheaper. They set the price and that's the way it is. I can't figure out why it's so high, it's not like they don't have cows in PA! Eggs are $3 a dozen. Ridiculous.

Suzi Riot said...

All this stagflation has got me anxious and depressed. I think I'll make some nice chocolate chunk brownies to comfort me in this time of stress. Let's see, I'll need some milk and some eggs... dammit! I can't afford brownies!

Anonymous said...

This is bothersome and another one fo my rage points: GMo foods, monsanto(peeve), and processed foods. They anger me, but not everyone can afford to eat healthy. Look at the organic red pepper...that bitch is 6 dollars per pound compared to the $3/lb for conventional. This product is also one of the highest sprayed foods(along with others)

Dr. Zaius said...

"I'm sure if we just cut taxes, everything will be both hunky and dory."

Only for large international corporations, of course.

Swinebread said...

of course... grrrrr

Randal Graves said...

Marjorie, $2.69/HALF gallon? Yikes. It's amazing how the auto industry crows against 25 mpg standards yet that would be the bottom-of-the-barrel in Europe, for example. As for your car, just think of all the neat art you can make with that tissue paper once it finally goes kaput!

ME, those prices are insane. $3 for a dozen eggs? We don't hit that, and we buy the ostensibly more expensive organic ones.

suzi, which means you certainly can't afford special ones! For treats, we're all going to be stuck squeezing tubes of raw cookie dough.

Colleen, oh man, fuck Monsanto and ConAgra and the rest of those industrial fucks. And you're right. The economic wingnuts will bitch about health problems and why can't the lower classes eat better. Well, because there's no public transportation to take them to the organic stores dozens of miles away, so they're stuck going to the places that sell processed shit. When your options are limited, you - oh, who am I kidding. Pull yourselves up by your golden bootstraps, America!

Dr. Zaius and Swinebread, as well it should be, because who creates the jobs! Thank you, corporations!

My Inner French Girl said...


Yeah, and I don't even drink milk. I use it mostly for baking, but it's really B. who drinks it like water. The man goes through a gallon a week. I don't mind the cost, though. All I have to do is think of all the hormones and antibiotics they pump into conventionally raised cows, and I run -- not walk -- to the organic foods aisle.

As for the Geo, well, it's slowly decomposing as we speak, but I wouldn't trade her for all the tea in China.


TomCat said...

Great minds, Randal. :-)

Anonymous said...

I long for the spring when I can plant my own produce and save on my grocery bill. Now if I can get my car to just run on hope and promises, I'll be in great shape!

Tom Harper said...

Hey, what's with all this anti-business anti-American rhetoric? Tax cuts ARE the answer. If the richest 1% of the population gets even richer (at our expense), some of their wealth will trickle down onto peons like us. We should be grateful for what Enron and Exxon have done for America.

Who Hijacked Our Country

no_slappz said...

Things are going remarkably well in Cuba and North Korea.

But if Cubans and North Koreans could, they'd depart their workers' paradises.