Low Inflation? The Price Of Ground Beef Has Risen 17 Percent Over The Past Year

Inflation Public DomainThanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices.  Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates.  And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts.  The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market.  But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don’t stretch as far as they once did.  The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.

Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years.  It isn’t that she didn’t want to help the poor anymore.  It was that she just couldn’t deal with the rising food prices any longer.  Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.

Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately.  In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene.  For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound.  Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase…

The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.

A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.

The “intellectuals” over at the Federal Reserve insist that “a little bit of inflation” is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.

In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000.  For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s.  As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years…

Food Inflation 2014

If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.

But they aren’t.

In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels…

Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.

Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.

“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.

This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.

The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.

And this could be just the beginning.  Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe.  Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse?  Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.

In addition, a “black swan event” such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.

Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent

Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.

The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said.

“Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.

If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.

Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.

But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.

One of the ways that they make the “official numbers” look good is by playing accounting games.  They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed’s research department…

The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI “to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children’s toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly ‘distorted'” by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.

I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, “Now it’s time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month.” It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI.

I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or “distorted”—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.

It is all a game to them.

It is all about getting to the “right number” to release to the public.

But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.

The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.

Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.

Blame the Federal Reserve – their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.

The Federal Reserve Is Paying Banks NOT To Lend 1.8 Trillion Dollars To The American People

House Of Cards - Photo by ArealastDid you know that U.S. banks have more than 1.8 trillion dollars parked at the Federal Reserve and that the Fed is actually paying them not to lend that money to us?  We were always told that the goal of quantitative easing was to “help the economy”, but the truth is that the vast majority of the money that the Fed has created through quantitative easing has not even gotten into the system.  Instead, most of it is sitting at the Fed slowly earning interest for the bankers.  Back in October 2008, just as the last financial crisis was starting, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Federal Reserve would start paying interest on the reserves that banks keep at the Fed.  This caused an absolute explosion in the size of these reserves.  Back in 2008, U.S. banks had less than 2 billion dollars of excess reserves parked at the Fed.  Today, they have more than 1.8 trillion.  In less than five years, the pile of excess reserves has gotten nearly 1,000 times larger.  This is utter insanity, and it will have very serious consequences down the road.

Posted below is a chart that shows the explosive growth of these excess reserves in recent years…

Excess Reserves

This explains why all of the crazy money printing that the Fed has been doing has not caused tremendous inflation yet.  Most of the money has not even gotten into the economy.  The Fed has been paying banks not to lend it out.

But now that big pile of money is sitting out there, and at some point it is going to come pouring in to the U.S. economy.  When that happens, we could very well see an absolutely massive tsunami of inflation.

Posted below is a chart that shows the growth of the M2 money supply over the past several decades.  It has been fairly steady, but imagine what would happen if you took the hockey stick from the chart above and suddenly added it to the top of this one…

M2 Money Supply

The longer that the Federal Reserve continues to engage in quantitative easing and continues to pay banks not to lend that money out to the rest of us, the larger that inflationary time bomb is going to become.

In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Professor Robert Auerbach of the University of Texas explained the nightmarish situation that we are facing…

One reason that the excess reserves grew to an extraordinary level is that in October 2008, one month after the financial crisis when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, the Bernanke Fed began paying interest on bank reserves. Although it has been 1/4 of 1 percent interest, this risk free rate was not low compared to the Fed’s policy of keeping short-term market rates near zero. The interest banks received was and is an incentive to hold the excess reserves rather than lend to consumers and businesses in the risky environment of the major recession and the slow recovery.

The Bernanke Fed is now facing a $1.863 trillion time bomb, they helped to create, of excess reserves in the private banking system. If rates of interest on income earning assets (including bank loans to consumers and businesses) rise, the Fed will have to pay the banks more interest to hold their excess reserves.

If interest rates move up dramatically (and they are already starting to rise significantly), banks will have an incentive to take that money out of the Fed and start lending it out.  Professor Auerbach suggests that this could cause an “avalanche” of money pouring into the economy…

Eighty five billion a month will seem tiny compared to the avalanche of the $1.863 trillion excess reserves exploding rapidly into the economy. That would devalue the currency, cause more rapid inflation and worry investors about a coming collapse.

So the Fed has kind of painted itself into a corner.  If the Fed keeps printing money, they continue to grossly distort our financial system even more and the excess reserves time bomb just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

But even the suggestion that the Fed would begin to start “tapering” quantitative easing caused the financial markets to throw an epic temper tantrum in recent weeks.  Interest rates immediately began to skyrocket and Fed officials did their best to try to settle everyone down.

So where do we go from here?

Unfortunately, as Jim Rogers recently explained, this massive experiment in financial manipulation is ultimately going to end in disaster…

I’m afraid that in the end, we’re all going to suffer perhaps, worse than we ever have, with inflation, currency turmoil, and higher interest rates.

The Fed and other global central banks have created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.  If the Fed ends quantitative easing, the bond market is going to try to revert to normal.

That would be disastrous for the global financial system.  The following is what Jim Willie told Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com

Everything is dependent on Fed support. They know if they take it away, they’re going to create a black hole. The Treasury bond is the greatest asset bubble in history. It’s at least twice as large as the housing and mortgage bubble, maybe three or four times as large.

But even if the central banks keep printing money, they may not be able to maintain control over the bond market.  In fact, there are already signs that they are starting to lose control.  The following is what billionaire Eric Sprott told King World News the other day…

It’s total orchestration. And it’s orchestration because they might have lost control of the bond market. I find it such a juxtaposition that central banks on a daily basis buy more bonds today than they ever purchased, and interest rates are going up, which is almost perverted. I mean how can that happen?

They’ve lost control of the market in my mind, and that’s why they are so desperately trying to get us all to forget the word ‘taper.’ In fact, we probably won’t even hear the word ‘taper’ anymore because it has such a sickening reaction to people in the bond market, and perhaps even people in the stock market. They will probably do away with the word. But the system is totally out of control. And then we’ve got this quadrillion dollars of derivatives. It just blows blows my mind to think about what could really be going on behind the scenes.

Sprott made a really good point about derivatives.

The quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble could bring down the global financial system at any time.

And remember, interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of that.  Today, there are 441 trillion dollars of interest rate derivatives sitting out there.  If interest rates begin skyrocketing at some point, that is going to create some absolutely massive losses in the system.  We could potentially be talking about an event that would make the failure of Lehman Brothers look like a Sunday picnic.

We are moving into a time of great financial instability.  People are going to be absolutely shocked by what happens.

Our financial system is a house of cards built on a foundation of risk, leverage and debt.  When it all comes tumbling down, it should not be a surprise to any of us.

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