Friday, November 12, 2010

Surviving Inflation

The most common topic in the email I receive daily is inflation. I’d say 60% of the emails I get revolve around inflation, the other 30% is security and the remaining 10% about various survival related topics. Crime is probably the main concern in Argentina, with inflation in a very close second place, but you must understand that its been almost 10 years now since our economy collapsed and things have… lets just say, “evolved” into a new reality for us. For several years after the 2001 collapse, here as well, inflation was the main topic, the greatest concern people had. I find this to be interesting in many ways.
First, it clearly shows a growing concern about inflation in USA, and there’s good reasons for that. If you didn’t notice the inflation you just aren’t looking well enough.
This email is a good example, and I’ve received others mentioning the same trick being pulled:

You mentioned to watch for the downsizing of packaging at the grocery. Here in Nashville Tennessee I picked up a bag of sugar along with 70 some odd cans of fruit and vegetables. When I got it home I noticed that it was a 4 LB. bag. Normally these are sold as 5 LB bags.

Robert Nashville TN

That’s where you see what’s really going on, in spite of the official numbers. Statistics don’t mean much if the books are cooked. Why would I bother reading “The Washington Post” or “Wall Street Journal”, when the source used for their articles states source: INDEC. INDEC being in the hands of the Kirchners, who fired the people that did things right long ago, replacing them with pals that simply LIE about the economy. You can lie about lots of things, but you cannot LIE about data recollection, it’s a fatal mistake. You’re not only lying to the people, which should be bad enough, you’re also lying to yourself, destroying the opportunity of knowing what’s really going on with the economy as well as any chance of fixing it.

Information such as the one below, it gives you an idea of how bad things are, but at least in Argentina, we know for a fact that the official inflation is often half, one third or worse than the inflation indicated by private consultants. Keep this on for a few years, and there’s no records, no solid data left to work with to find a solution.

Hello Ferfal,

I just stumbled across this online inflation tracking tool, and I thought you might find it interesting.

Argentina is MUCH worse than the rest of the world! At least for now....


Keep up the good work!


When you check private sources like the one below, it gets scary and you understand why Argentina will devaluate soon, it must devaluate before the next elections. The graphic shows true inflationary prices per day, week and year. True Inflation in Argentina since 2008 according to MIT ? 100%
Check it out:

What it all comes down to is prices going up, and you can get by without changing the car that year or buying a new Laptop, but there’s still basic necessities prices and that’s where things get ugly fast:

CapnRick said...
As an Argentine resident with a dollar income accessed via ATMs, I can speak to my own personal experience with the dollar's problems in the international market.

The dollar has done very well against the Arg. peso... a 30% change in the dollar's favor since I moved here in 2008. However, the actual cost of things here in dollar terms have gone thru the roof over the last two years. I have no idea how families like FerFAL's with peso income manage.

Today, I walked out of the Toledo grocery chain store near my home without buying anything. The cold cuts I used to buy for 25 pesos have DOUBLED IN PRICE in the last 2 months. Whole chickens doubled in price about a year ago... but, their price went up 20% in the last few days (5 pesos a kilo 1n 2008... 10 pesos a kilo last week, and 12 pesos today). In dollar terms... 1.65/kilo in 2008, 2.50 a kilo last week and 3.00 a kilo today.

In terms my hungry tummy will understand, I can buy 45 pct less chicken as a year ago with my income staying the same. Damn.

Suerte -CapnRick
November 11, 2010 1:53 PM

Thanks Rick for the comment. (By the way, looking forward to seeing you guys this summer!)
This is a good example of daily life with rampant inflation. You just never know what the following day holds.
Yesterday for example, I went to Coto supermarket to buy groceries, cleaning products, etc. I didn’t buy anything fancy just, food and other house supplies. The toped off cart (small cart by US standards, not one of those big ones) ended up costing 1600 pesos. That’s 410 USD for pasta, cookies, vegetable oil, some frozen vegetables, milk and other dairy products. In January, a 120 gr. can of tuna, small one, cost 6 pesos. Yesterday I paid 10 pesos for it, about 2.5 USD for a tiny can of tuna.

The shopping cart inflation index is the most brutal one. They can say whatever they want on the news and in their financial reports, but when your money keeps buying less and less stuff, that’s what really matters. Its’ no mystery that today, with the same amount of money you used to top it off, you only fill the shopping cart half way through. That’s the explanation for the all too common Argentine joke whenever our president rambles about how great our economy is doing: “Its nice to know the Argentine economy is doing so well, too bad though that we don’t see any of that”.



Anonymous said...

eGreat post.

Btw Democracy Now is running a show about Argentina and today. Would love to hear your comments on their topics and guests.


Anonymous said...

I see the USA running towards socialism at warp speed as its answer to save the economy when it will actually lead to our economic destruction. What can save any nation from economic collapse? Pure 100% free market Capitalism! See www.mises.org

green82000 said...

I’ve worked for a grocery store here in Kentucky for almost two years and I’ve seen first hand on the steady but slow increase in prices store wide especially in produce the department I work in. Last summer peaches was 77 cents a pound this year they never dropped below 88 cents. Most of this was due to the extreme heat and drought in the US this year that brought on crop failures across the board. Thank God it was nothing like the Russian failure but still it was enough. Now that its winter the imports are coming in and the weak dollar is not helping except in one thing. Ironically black berries from Argentina are selling three for five dollars for a half pint. That’s the cheapest they’ve been since the Michigan crop early this year. All I can say is stock up. Buy as much canned vegetables as you can because after the holidays you can expect them to go into record territory. Heed the warring strawberries form California is 4.39 for a one pound package imagine what it will be in a couple of months

Anonymous said...

There are persistent rumors here in the USA that old age and disability pensions will no longer get adjusted every year for inflation, as they were in the past, so that the amount of money stays the same while inflation erodes its purchasing power. Already there have been no "COLA" increases since 2009, and some politicians in DC want to make that permanent.

Those are government programs like Social Security, very few private pension systems exist any longer and the government workers who take work pensions are also seeing those pensions frozen. I suspect in a few years that the government will stop all entitlement spending completely as it goes bankrupt and ceases to exist, likely leaving America under the rule of warlords. Some are already speculating that government will give way to warlord rule here in a decade.

But yeah, entitlements here are basically a tax evasion device now, if you're "on the dole" they don't look too carefully to see if you have other income. Drug dealers pay no taxes and drive around in flashy cars, and nobody says a thing. I recently sold my dying car to a ghetto rat who runs an illegal used car business out of his home. I sold the car for $1300 on Friday, on Monday it's back on Craigslist for $2800. AND the ad is in Spanish (he didn't know that I speak Spanish, heh heh, so I could tell that he was selling my junky car as having no problems). That guy drives around in a flashy Cadillac Escalade SUV. When you don't pay taxes, life is great.

Anonymous said...

Hey ferfal what happened to the stock market in argentina in 2001? I don't know enough about it but once they started printing money did it rise rapidly then crash or did the stocks tank then all the inflation happened?

gaga said...

Tinned Tuna seems to have got more expensive everywhere. I did a check in the UK and the prices are the same as Argentina, but two years ago they were 1/3rd the price. I bought a lot of Tuna and tinned salmon at that time, salmon seems a bit more expensive.

Cooking oil is the thing that annoys me, the price rocketed in 2008 to £1/per liter to match the taxed petrol price at people discovered it could be converted into biodiesel. Now the wholesale of rapeseed etc has collapsed the price of oil is still extortionate.

PomPomPom said...

To compare prices between countries, below is a real ticket from my usual grocery store this morning. It's a medium cheap store in an affluent district west of Paris (France). Quality is medium low. All prices in €.
1) Milk cream (dairy product) 0.5 Liter. 1.24€
2) Onions (yellow) 1kg. 1.29€
3) Tuna can, known brand, looks like better quality, 130g net. 2.42€
4) Tuna can, store brand, looks like lower quality, 130g net. 0.81€
5) Fresh turkey filets, 170g, 13.85€/kg. 2.35€
6) Sliced bread, known brand, good quality. American style. 600g. 1.45€
Total = 9.56€

Interestingly. Two years ago, I took a large series of pictures (1000+) of my usual surroundings: my home, district, shops, cars... to serve as a souvenir of what was daily life before TSHTF. Among others I pictured my grocery buyings of the day, 20 sept 2008.
I checked this morning the EXACT same products as above:
- Onions was 1.49 now 1.29 = down
- Bread was 1.60 now 1.45 = down
- Rillettes (pork potted meat, 220g), was 1.59 now 1.64 = up
- Paella can (crap quality, 1kg) was 2.44 now 2.59 = up
- Cream was 1.19 now 1.24 = up
- Tuna (the cheap store brand) was 0.62 now 0.81 = up.
But some product are higher (corned beef from 1€ then to 1.49€ now)

What it means is that, we in France didn't see much food inflation. Thanks to a high euro.
Therefore stocking on food is not a relevent hedge over coming crisis.
Real hikes are elsewhere. It's in taxes on every other services. Sarkozy is as crooked as Kirchner and invents one new tax each month. No kidding, on average, at least one more tax or tax hike is announced every month since his election. On TV, internet, electricity, property... you name it.
You understand why the French people are upset. They were told they would have generous state services provided they accept a heavy taxation. And now they have to work more (if they have a job), get lower wages, more taxes, and lower actual services (health, retirement...)


Anonymous said...

My husband just asked me an interesting question. "So he's paying $2.50 a can for tuna. What's he earning in a month?"

He's got a point though. I pay .60 a can for that can of tuna, and between the two of us we earn $31.75 an hour (plus some overtime). So how does it compare to you, because I suspect you and I are in the same social level (upper middle class). The husband says you probably bring home twice as much, that pay rates have probably risen to match the inflation. I say no, but I have nothing to back me up.

So it's a personal and rude question to be sure, but if you feel like sharing, it'd sure help put the inflation into perspective to know what YOUR take home is.

Anonymous said...

I was at the grocery store in Mass. yesterday. Last week Kraft Mac and Cheese was $1. Yesterday it was $1.39. A two lb bag of store brand french fries has gone from $1.80 to $2.20 over the last month. Good quality bread? Forget about it. $4-$5 for a little loaf of wheat bread. Even the store brand sandwich bread is approaching $2, and that is prob. 50% air.

DaShui said...

The Wall Street Journal's subscription rate has doubled in 5 years, and the paper's size has shrunk. And the Journal says there is no inflation to worry about!

FerFAL said...

bleatingwolf, I dont make nearly as much money as you guys do, not by a long shot.
About inflation in Argentina in relation to the salaries, minimum wage in Argentina is 1500 pesos (375 dollars) , average is 3000 (750 dollars) pesos.
That's why we have more and more poor each years in tis country. 2.5 dollars for a can of tuna when you make 375? Doesn't add up, does it?

chinasyndrome said...

Ferfal here in Indiana yesterday I saw tuna on sale for .99 a can the same can a year ago was .49-.59 so yes inflation is here.Not to mention all packaging is smaller.


Anonymous said...

Thanks FerFAL that's about what I suspected. I win! :D

Kinda funny, I said upper middle class but then I think about it, nah we are smack in the middle.

Anyway thanks for the figures to give it perspective.

Anonymous said...

Tuna went from 6 oz to 5 oz;peanut butter went from 18 oz to 16.3 oz;numerous other sneaky examples of downsizing packages in U.S. while keeping price the same. Sneaky inflation.


Anonymous said...

Useless paper money in the US also, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
(Last link of Banned Book):

Anonymous said...

Not only are the tuna cans smaller but the can is half water. And the tuna in 'oil' isn't really oil it's mostly water too.

Anonymous said...

I live in the NE United States and prices keep going up almost on a daily basis. Our local grocery chain that services all of New England has a virtual army that works during the overnight hours changing price stickers, it is morbidly fascinating to watch. BTW, if you'd like a true visual representation of inflation just look at the size of a roll of toilet paper; what once took up the entire length of the holder now merrily spins with plenty of room to spare. If they keep it up pretty soon they'll fit in tape dispensers, a fitting image for what is to come.

Anonymous said...

I live in the NE United States and prices keep going up almost on a daily basis. Our local grocery chain that services all of New England has a virtual army that works during the overnight hours changing price stickers, it is morbidly fascinating to watch. BTW, if you'd like a true visual representation of inflation just look at the size of a roll of toilet paper; what once took up the entire length of the holder now merrily spins with plenty of room to spare. If they keep it up pretty soon they'll fit in tape dispensers, a fitting image for what is to come.

Ron Mylar said...

No kidding, on average, at least one more tax or tax hike is announced every month since his election. The blog which you shared is very helpful.

Anonymous said...

James Turk believes that hyper inflation in the U.S. is 100% certain between 2013 and 2015. This is an authoritative source, yet only one opinion. Prior to such to such an event, the rate of price inflation will be high. Don't wait. I'd rather be a year too early than a day too late. In the near term, a financial crisis is looming and it can be a game changer. It may become difficult to find the supplies you need after that point. The supply is small.

It's a balancing act, yet Food is the best investment and first place to start. 6 months of canned and easy to prepare foods, and a variety of staples with long term shelf lives such as rice, wheat, beans, honey, canned butter, ghee, and olive oil are the back bone. Look up a LDS Food Storage Calculator for a list of the bare minimum needed per person. Without a food calculator, a rule of thumb might be 60 pounds of dry staples per person, yet for proper nutrition, a proper mix is needed. Emergency Essentials and Walton Feed are two good sources of prepackaged long term storage foods, yet these folks are currently overwhelm and either out of stock, or running way behind. Demand for these kinds of supplies is now high and will likely grow. It is not just the generally expected price inflation of food to worry about, it is also the supply or lack of supply that can drive prices in this specialty market.

Once we reach the 'tipping point' the dollar CAN rapidly cascade upon itself within a matter of weeks, prices with doubling or tripling quickly and know one knows when. a

Anonymous said...

The consensus of the 'cutting edge' opinion appears to be that it is a mathematical certainty that the dollar will face hyper inflate given the course that QE2 set. The question when, and the math strongly suggests before 2015. The question of whether it will retain World Reserve Currency Status is no longer a question. It will not. There is talk of of new global currency such as SDR's or some other invention that may be swapped for the dollar to avoid such a destabilizing event as catastrophic collapse of the dollar. If that's the case, the U.S. will loose soveignty, much like previously individual European States lost theirs to the EU. Yet would such a deal be actually workable? Would that be acceptable for long? Other than WW3, that appears to be the only way out at this time. At all times in history where today's conditions exsisted, a major war occurred. Anyway it's cut, the world is in for it and planning for the worst is prudent. The conditions in Argentina will become even worse, and conditions in the U.S. could potentially become horrific.

For those interested in advanced ideas and current information, highly recommend Zero Hedge.com


Anonymous said...

According to Cristina, "some prices go up while others go down". Which prices are going down?
Argentina: The controversy over inflation figures grows

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