Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Commodity Prices and Why the World Is About To End

There is a lot of opinion being offered these days to the effect that the sky is falling as a result of Obamanomics - first fiscal stimulus, and now QE II.

Well, wait a minute.  Since nobody has actually been hit by a chunk of the celestial ceiling since that scene in Chicken Little . . .

. . . maybe we should subject this notion to some sort of rational analysis.

One thing that is usually cited as evidence is the behavior of commodity prices since the inception of Obama's ill-advised quasi-tragic idiotically Keynesian stimulus package.   Well, since the International Monetary Fund conveniently has that information readily at hand as both a graph and a table of monthly values, (2005 Avg value = 100, includes both fuel and non-fuel) let's have a look.


After a bit of hyperventilating, it occurred to me that some skeptic out there might think I was cherry-picking the data.  We certainly can't have that.  And Krugman - who I have been known to disagree with - is not particularly concerned.

Given all that, let's look at the whole data set, which starts in 1992.

See - after 10 years in the doldrums, commodity prices really took off just about when we invaded Iraq, and then went through the hole in the roof made by that piece of falling sky!   

Oh - wait a minute.  That was in July, 2008.  And by the end of the year the index value was cut in half.

Damn. . . the data isn't fitting my narrative very well.  I know!  Let's change the data.  Here is just 2010.

See -The index has gone from 142.34 in January to 147.74 in September (latest data available.)  That's almost 3.9%!  Annualized, it's almost 5.2%!  And it's up fully 13 1/3% from the pre-bubble August, 2006 high of 130.37!  Doesn't that look like hyperinflation to you?

I suppose at this point some smart ass is going to point out that since April the Index has declined from 153.27 to 147.74, and that's negative 3.6%.

Look, we're on the verge of hyperinflation.  Just don't mess with a beautiful idea, dammit.

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