inflation

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The Burrito Index: Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001

Calculating the real inflation rate
Friday, July 29, 2016, 3:31 PM

In our household, we measure inflation with the "Burrito Index": How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?

Since we keep detailed records of expenses (a necessity if you’re a self-employed free-lance writer), I can track the real-world inflation of the Burrito Index with great accuracy: the cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.

That’s a $160% increase since 2001; 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today. » Read more

Insider

How To Beat Inflation

Protecting the purchasing power of your wealth
Friday, July 29, 2016, 3:31 PM

Executive Summary

  • Taking Advantage of Subsidies
  • The Importance of Adding New Income Streams
  • Income-Producing Assets
  • Hedges, Cost-Controls & Other Strategies

If you have not yet read Part 1: The Burrito Index: Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we compared official rates of inflation with hard data from the real world, and found that it’s not just the cost of burritos that has soared over 100% while inflation has supposedly been trundling along at 1% or 2% per year. The real killer is the soaring cost of big-ticket essentials such as rent, higher education and healthcare.

So what can we do about it? There are only a few strategies that can make a real difference: either qualify for subsidies (i.e. lower household income), own assets and income streams that keep up with real-world inflation, or radically reduce the cost structure of big-ticket household expenses.

Qualify for Subsidies

Though it runs counter to our philosophy of self-reliance, we have to address incentives offered by the system we inhabit. One powerful set of incentives is entitlement subsidies for lower income households: rent subsidies (Section 8), healthcare subsidies (Medicaid and ACA/Obamacare), college tuition waivers, food subsidies (food stamps), free school lunches, and so on.

These programs were designed to aid households that cannot earn more income, but for households on the borderline between paying full freight (no subsidies) and receiving some subsidies, it makes sense to work less, earn less and qualify for substantial subsidies.

I am not recommending gaming the system, I am simply noting that subsidies exist and those who earn just above qualifying incomes are in effect punished for earning a bit too much.

In many cases, we assume subsidies are reserved for “poor people” and we don’t qualify. For entitlements such as food stamps (SNAP), this is generally the case. But other programs offer some subsidies to households with incomes that are substantial... » Read more

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The Great Market Tide Has Now Shifted To Risk-Off Assets

A global sea-change in risk appetite & sentiment
Friday, July 8, 2016, 3:03 PM

In the conventional investment perspective, risk-on assets (i.e. investments with higher risks and higher potential returns) such as stocks are on a see-saw with risk-off assets (investments with lower returns and lower risk, such as Treasury bonds). When risk appetites are high, institutional managers and speculators move money into stocks and high-yield junk bonds, and move money out of safe-haven assets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries.

But recently, markets are no longer following this convention. Safe haven assets such as precious metals and Treasuries are soaring at the same time that stock markets bounced strongly off the post-Brexit lows.

Risk-on assets (stocks) rising at the same time as safe-haven assets is akin to dogs marrying cats and living happily ever after. 

What the heck is going on? » Read more

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An Everyman's Guide To Understanding Cryptocurrencies

What are they exactly? Why consider owning them?
Friday, June 10, 2016, 5:51 PM

When an asset rises by almost 30% in a few weeks, it tends to attract attention.  Recently, that asset was bitcoin (BTC). The price of BTC in dollars rose from $454 on May 23 to $590 on June 6th.

When an asset doubles in a matter of months, it tends to attract attention.  The cryptocurrency Ether (part of the Ethereum platform) doubled from around $7 in April to roughly $14 in early June.

Are these cryptocurrencies mere fads? Or are they potentially game-changing alternatives to the conventional currencies such as the U.S. dollar, Chinese RMB, Japanese yen or European Union euro? » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Fed's Frenzy Of Emergency Meetings

Are things more dire than we're being told?
Friday, April 22, 2016, 1:34 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish Shedlock discuss:

  • Part Time Nation
    • Our job market has been hollowed out
  • Emergency Fed Meetings
    • What exactly is going on behind the scenes?
  • Lower Returns & Lower Prices
    • Pretty much what we have to look forward to from these markets
  • Chinese Capital Flight
    • Driving so much of today's overvaluations
Podcast

Peak Prosperity

Adam Trexler: A New Way to Hold Gold (2016 Update)

Right alongside the bills in your wallet
Sunday, April 10, 2016, 8:03 PM

What if you could carry and exchange gold in the exact same manner as you do with the dollar bills in your wallet?

Two years ago, we introduced the precious metals community to a company called Valaurum, which has developed a technology that's making this possible. » Read more

Podcast

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Ed Butowsky: Calculating The True Cost of Living Increase

Why it's much higher than we're told/sold
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 1:06 PM

Over the past decade, we've been told that inflation has been tame -- actually below the target the Federal Reserve would like to see. But if that's true, then why does the average household find it harder and harder to get by?

The ugly reality is that the true annual cost of living is far outpacing the government's reported inflation rate. By nearly 10x in many parts of the country.

This week, we welcome Ed Butowsky, developer of the Chapwood Index, to the program. His index is a 'real world' measure of how prices are increasing much faster than the wages of the 99% can afford. » Read more

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The Return Of Crisis

Suddenly banks everywhere are in deep, deep trouble
Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 12:28 AM

Financial markets the world over are increasingly chaotic and either retreating or plunging.  Our view is that there’s a gigantic market crash in our future and it’s possible that this has started now. » Read more

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The Screaming Fundamentals For Owning Gold

We're at a moment of historic opportunity
Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 12:53 PM

Every year or two we update this report, which lays out the investment thesis for gold. Here is this year's version.

Silver is touched upon only as necessary; as a separate report of equal scope is required for that precious metal.

Gold is one of the few investments that every investor should have in their portfolio. We are now at the dangerous end-game period of a very bold but very reckless & disappointing experiment with the world's fiat (unbacked) currencies. If this experiment fails -- and we observe it's in the process of failing -- gold will provide one of the best forms of wealth insurance. But like all insurance products, it only works if you buy it before you need to rely on it. » Read more

Insider

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From Deflation To Hyperinflation

Expect a market crash followed by helicopter money
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 12:36 AM

Executive Summary

  • China is rolling over
  • Contagion will eventually take down the core economies, including the US
  • We are witnessing a full-blown collapse of the commodity complex
  • Deflation will win the day over the next year, but then get ready for helicopter money hyperinflation

If you have not yet read Part 1: Deflation Warning: The Next Wave available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

The Chinese GDP Lie

Right off the top, China is not growing anywhere near the 7% it claims.  That’s just a politically useful lie that the Chinese tell to the world as much as they tell to themselves.

Fortunately, hardly anyone is falling for that particular fib any longer.  Let’s start with the completely obvious manufacturing slump that has hit China:

Chinese Factory Gauge Slumps to Lowest Level Since March 2009

Sept 22, 2015

A private Chinese manufacturing gauge fell to the lowest in 6 1/2 years, underscoring challenges facing the economy as its old growth engines splutter.

A global sell off in riskier assets gained pace after the preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index from Caixin Media and Markit Economics dropped to 47.0 in September. That missed the median estimate of 47.5 in a Bloomberg survey and fell from the final reading of 47.3 in the previous month. Readings have remained below 50 since March, indicating contraction.

Premier Li Keqiang’s growth target of about 7 percent for this year is being challenged by a slowdown in manufacturing and exports even as services and consumption show resilience.

(Source)

The way a PMI reading works is anything over 50 indicates expansions and anything under 50 indicates contraction.  Anybody care to explain to me how China can be sporting sub-50 readings every month since March -- that’s five full months -- and still be claiming to be aiming for a 7% annual growth target?  You know, because China is... » Read more