You want to know the inflation rates over the last 10 years?
I have collected some data for you, but the truth is, that the inflation rate is very difficult to measure.
There are 2 main concepts how to calculate the inflation rate.
First of all they construct a basket of goods and then look, how it is changing over time.
This basket is set to 100. The basket contains all the goods for Joe Average.
Problem: You are not Joe Average. Your consumer basket may look very different. Therefore, you “feel” a different inflation rate and your feelings may be right, because you look at a different basket.
This price change can be calculated in two different ways:
If you calculate the price index this way, you choose a starting date (year) and assume, that the quantities and qualities remain the same over time.
If you calculate the price index this way, you choose your starting date today and calculate backwards.
The main problem is that the quality of the products changes over time. Think about a car 10 years ago or a computer 10 years ago. You can hardly work with a ten year old computer.
This goes hand in hand with another point: The expenditure changes. Ten years ago, nobody bought a smartphone or iPhone because it wasn´t available Today it is a normal part of our products, which we buy.
To solve these problems the authorities build another index. This index changes every year / month its composition. It´s called chain index.
The disadvantage: You can´t compare year to year because it changes.
Nevertheless the chain index is used to calculate the inflation in Europe and also in the United States.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the United States
This chart provides the official 12 month changes for the last 10 years, starting in 2005:
You can see the sharp decrease in inflation during the financial crisis in 2008 / 2009. Furtheron you can see, that the inflation increases again, but was slightly smaller than the years before the financial crises. Furthermore we recognize, that the inflation dropped to zero in the last year.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the United States – an alternative concept
The United States made a significant change in their concept to calculate the official inflation rate.
- CPI no longer measures the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living.
- CPI no longer measures full inflation for out-of-pocket expenditures.
John Williams still calculates the inflation rate in the old manner and compares it to the official inflation rate.
As you can see in the picture the official inflation rate (orange) is now a lot lower, than it would be, if we would use the old calculation (blue).
Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Germany
For comparison I added the inflation from Germany. As you can see the chart looks similar to the United States. This shows among others, that the major countries have similar developments.
But you can see, that in 2006 the annual change was about 3% and in the US it was nearly 6%. If you compare it with the alternative concept by John Williams, its even 9%.
During the financial crisis the annual change of the inflation rate dropped in Germany to zero, but in the United States it dropped to minus 2%. This means deflation. But if you look at shadow statistics, there was no deflation. What is the truth?
I think somewhere in between.
The pictures show the rate of change. You can also print the development of the Consumer Price Index over the time. You will get a different image. The line goes from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. This makes you feel that the inflation is an issue and that it is rising.
If you want to take a closer look at the inflation rate in European countries, you can it here.
Is inflation good or bad?
Today the central banks all over the world say, that the inflation rate is too low and that they want to increase it to 2% (European Central Bank) or even more (FED). What is wrong with a low inflation rate?
If you have some cash, a low inflation or even a negative is great. You can buy more things with the same money.
Now look the other way: You borrowed some money to invest. You sell your stuff, but you can sell it only for a lower price. To get the same profit you have to sell more. You can´t sell it with a higher price because of the deflation. You will suffer less gain or even a loss.
That is the reason because Central banks don´t like deflation. Therefore they will do “whatever it takes” (Mario Draghi) to increase inflation. Even if they can´t stop the inflation, if it starts to go through the roof.
They will print more and more money.
The only question is:
Who prints faster: The FED, the ECB or Japan?
This can be the reason that you feel another inflation, as reported by the authorities.