Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Inflation on and after 2006

So, to quote Nephos, who linked to a very pretty picture
An interesting example is looking at US inflation around WW1: Inflation skyrocketed at the end of the war as the US invested in sending its work force toward futile engagement in the trenches. And then deflation skyrocketed once they came home. The average over this period was probably somewhere in the vicinity of something small.
Using the linked table -- and there's a line between quoting and stealing I'm never sure when I cross, but I make you click in to the table -- inflation in the year 1924 was zero, so we'll treat that as a turning point (even though the year before was positive, at 1.8%) and end in 1923. Inflation jumps from 1% in 1914 and 1915 to 7.9% in 1916, so we'll start in 1916. This gives us inflation rates of 7.9, 17.4, 18, 14.6, 15.6, -10.5, -6.1 and 1.8 per cent per year, which add up to a 1915 dollar being worth 93 cents at the end of 1916 and 59 cents at the end of 1923. Deflation starts in again about half-way through 1926 -- remember that's supposed to be the middle of a great economic boom -- so the 1915 dollar bottoms out at 58 cents in 1926 before zooming back up to 78 cents (nearly its 1917 value) after 1933. In 1943, it's back to 58 cents.

Look, I made a plot.
The four post WWI years 1930 - 1933 had a lot of deflation, and it took ten years to undo them. Using this as a precedent, buying a house could still be an extremely sucky investment. However, I think the path of inflation will be the one we'll follow.


nephos said...

Ooh, research!!

Nice plot.

It's interesting that even though fluctuations have been roughly compensating, beer still costs more than a couple of pennies today. Ultimately, perhaps, it will cost a few pennies again during the end-times (Woohoo!), but those days are probably still a long ways off. So, long-term mean inflation, you go girl.

malechem said...

My plot only goes to 1943 -- I can't explain the title of this post, or how 2006 got into it. After 2007, that dollar was worth 5 cents.