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Old 01-17-2012, 08:20 AM   #21
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1. The federal government will make emigration illegal.
2. The oceans will die.
3. There will be war with Iran. We will lose.
4. Hyperinflation in the US will destroy retirement.
5. Medicare payments will consume 120% of SS.
6. Taking vacation will become a federal crime.

I had some really negative things to say, but I forebore. I was going to say something about the Euro disappearing, but I think that our government will step in. See? It ain't all bad.
Is that a nuclear vapor cloud I see behind the big R.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:51 AM   #22
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Here is my prediction for 2012 and beyond. If the inflation rate continues at 3.5% my cost of living will double in about 20 years.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:02 PM   #23
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Does anyone's actual personal inflation rate come close to 3.5% over a long term? Once you have no mortgage and assuming you continue to LBYM, I can't imagine the cost of living doubling in 20 years. Insurance will cost more, but we'll have medicare. Gas will cost less, but we'll drive less. Food is one item that will probably go up, but I hear we don't eat as much when we get old.

If what one needs to live on doubles over the next 20 years, I know a lot of people who may have to get by on half as much.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:05 PM   #24
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Does anyone's actual personal inflation rate come close to 3.5% over a long term? Once you have no mortgage and assuming you continue to LBYM, I can't imagine the cost of living doubling in 20 years. Insurance will cost more, but we'll have medicare. Gas will cost less, but we'll drive less. Food is one item that will probably go up, but I hear we don't eat as much when we get old.
This is exactly how the government wants us to view inflation, and it's exactly the kind of stuff they do in order to "reduce" the CPI. It doesn't matter if the exact same things cost 10% more than last year -- if they decide it means we will change our consumer behavior and buy cheaper substitutes, they claim there is no inflation.

I'm sorry, but if the exact same basket of goods and services costs 8% more than last year (for example), inflation is 8% -- and I don't care if the CPI uses gimmicks to claim it's 1% because people are buying more chicken instead of beef.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:08 PM   #25
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Why can't THEY wait 'till after Christmas?
Note to self: Wait until Dec. 23 to begin Xmas shopping this year. Just might end up saving a bundle. Think of the sales we'll have! 99% off everything!!!

YMMV
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:42 PM   #26
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This is exactly how the government wants us to view inflation, and it's exactly the kind of stuff they do in order to "reduce" the CPI. It doesn't matter if the exact same things cost 10% more than last year -- if they decide it means we will change our consumer behavior and buy cheaper substitutes, they claim there is no inflation.

I'm sorry, but if the exact same basket of goods and services costs 8% more than last year (for example), inflation is 8% -- and I don't care if the CPI uses gimmicks to claim it's 1% because people are buying more chicken instead of beef.
Our personal-consumption (i.e., not housing and big-ticket items) inflation exceeded 10% last year. Yes, that's an estimate, but consider just our health care for a moment. Our previous OOP limit was $2500 and last year it went to $5000 (and we spent every nickel of it both years). Our premiums last year went up significantly as well. Between the escalating costs and shrinking size of food and household goods (have you noticed the size of TP rolls lately) I estimate our food/household purchases inflated well over 10% last year. Our electric rates are now higher than when oil was $150/bbl (and 90% of our electricity is produced with oil). The reason: People have taken HECO's advice and cut back on usage. Now, they have to charge more per KW to come out. (Hey, if the gators don't getcha, the skeeters will). HOA/Maintenance dues are way up (again) due to, oh, stuff like ELECTRICITY.

So, since we have no good idea about how to invest to Whip-Inflation-Now (other than diversify) it means we must implement some of our back-ups. Buy lower quality goods (which probably means DW will still use Charmin while I'll have to use the depleted sandpaper they sell for 1/3 less.) Eat out less often - a "simple, but not easy" solution. Switch to LCD lights every time a sale comes along - oh, we bought some left-over LCD xmas lights a year ago, primarily clear. We now use them for our room lighting when we watch TV. Much more efficient than even our CFLs (a free idea for ya.)

Other than whining, I guess my point is that inflation is already here no matter what our gummint says. I like to think I have enough back-ups built into my plan to make it another 20 or 30 years, but what if we see inflation like we did in the 70s/80s? I don't think they send out Sears catalogs anymore, do they?
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:46 PM   #27
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We don't have wage pressures contributing to inflation. We have the opposite situation.
We have high unemployment.

Capacity utilization is at a very low rate.

Economic growth is lackluster at best.

Demographics are against any substantial increase in demand for decades.

Those traits are not suggestive of inflation. Sure, pumping money into the economy is but so what? The money pumped in is still small compared to the amount taken out by the real estate collapse. A paper loss is being filled by a paper gain.

Commodity prices will probably continue to go up because there are so many more consumers in the world wanting to eat more calories and use more watts for their more western standards of living. That's the only thing I see that could lead to serious inflation in the next couple of decades. In spite of all the hot air, the market expects about 2.5%-3% inflation for the next 30 years based on the TIPS-long bond spread. That's well below the historic trend.

Credit card debt decreased 11% last year. That's huge. Interest rates aren't going to spike when Americans are rapidly deleveraging. There's no demand for money. They are too low to expect any significant additional decrease though. A year from now rates for every time period will be within 1% of where they are now.

What was "the consensus" smoking?

Oh, and S&P500 will hit a high this year in the mid 1400s and close around 1400 or high 1300s. That's based on modest earnings growth and a slight recovery of the PE but still below history. Why would the PE recover? Because European problems will push money to the US and bond returns will be no competition.

All in all, 2012 will be a good year, inflation will be tame, rates will be stable, and stocks will be ok. I don't really see the employment situation improving though.

But what do I know?
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:54 PM   #28
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So me and my finance buddy have been saying this for last 4 years, inflation is going to come back. Hrmmm where the heck is it?

So because this is interesting to me, I have been thinking about inflation and listening to what economists and analysts have to say. Are we wrong that inflation is ready to burst out? One possible outcome I have come up with:

Prices go up because of weakening dollar, due to pumping stimulus noted in #3. Also due to demand for commodities from developing countries. However, what is damaging with inflation is the cycle of higher prices and then wages go up in response, then prices go up in response then wages go up... you get the point. The damaging thing is the sprial of prices and wages fighting each other.

What if prices go up but wages can't because of 6Million folks looking for jobs? Then we could see 3-4% price inflation for a number of years, not fun for folks that don't keep up with wage increases or fixed income that don't have an escalation clause (pensions without cola or self funded retired that don't have investments that respond to inflation), but it doesn't put us in the inflation sprial we saw in 80's.

So I know that if we see traditional inflation, buy assets that will keep up with inflation (gold, realestate, diamonds, food under the bed) as bonds and equities don't do well in relation to inflation.

However, what if we have moderate inflation that the Fed can't or won't stop, because we as a country have to inflate our way out of the debt, we can never repay it with some moderate inflation. What can you do with your hord of cash to protect from that? The only thing I can think of now is we have borrowed $$ to buy rental realestate at today's low rates being convinced the 4% fixed rate money we owe today will look like gold when inflation kicks in.

Thoughts
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:04 PM   #29
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Then why are prices rising so much, at least for "essential" categories like food, energy, health care, insurance and education (among others)?
Food: Some of it is competition from corn being turned into ethanol, some is increased demand from improving diets around the world.

Energy: Instability in the ME and increased demand from developing countries.

Health care: Inefficiency and incompetence on so many levels.

Insurance: If the price of the underlying asset increases then so will coverage.

Education: State governments are scaling back subsidies. Plus student loans are so easy to get that the increase in supply of students supports higher prices.

I've tracked my expenses with Quicken for at least 14 years and with another program before that. I have not experienced the inflation that everyone talks about. My expenses have been nearly flat for the last 6 years. My homeowner's insurance has gone up 2.1% per year in the last 20 years despite having inflation coverage and insuring a house that has more than tripled in value. Sure, a few categories have gone up faster but some have decreased. We eat out more so that has gone up but out grocery costs have gone down. There are things we no longer buy because we already have but we spend more on vacations and other stuff like that.

I'm sure everyone has a different experience. But I have a hard time seeing the hyperinflation that some people get so excited about, now, in the past couple of decades, or in the next couple.
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:26 PM   #30
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What does the reference to "AA" stand for? I assume it refers to your investment portfolio. ( I know that once I hit "post reply" it'll come to me!)
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:28 PM   #31
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:29 PM   #32
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Marko, this might be of some help: * Acronyms and Slang Frequently Used on the Forum *
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:34 PM   #33
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As Napoleon Dynamite might say: "Gosshhh, what an idiot!"

Thanks folks.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:22 PM   #34
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Then why are prices rising so much, at least for "essential" categories like food, energy, health care, insurance and education (among others)? I agree that wage pressures are nonexistent -- but that hasn't stopped prices for most essential items a working class family has to purchase.

The textbooks would look at our situation and suggest there should be little or no inflation. And that is true for housing, for wages and for some big ticket "discretionary" items.... but is definitely *not* true for the essential things that dominate a modest budget.
DoingHomework answered some of this. But the main reason food inflation was so strong in 2011 was weather problems in several countries around the globe caused a shortage in world grain (corn/wheat) supply. This affected meat prices as well as other agricultural commodities.

Hightened oil prices also had an effect, again this impacts most crops. Higher oil prices were mainly due to political instability in the Middle East.

I suspect the major drought in the central/southern US also drove up US meat prices as not as many animals could be raised.

There were other constant global pressures that did not let up - increasing world population; world populations buying more expensive foods; increasing percent of grains used for biofuels.

It's worth noting that food inflation was flat for 2009 and 2010. It dropped slightly in 2009, and only went up a little in 2010.

Insurance and education are in their own little worlds in terms of increasing prices. Apparently competitive pressures are almost non-existent in those areas.

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Old 01-17-2012, 08:15 PM   #35
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Does anyone's actual personal inflation rate come close to 3.5% over a long term? Once you have no mortgage and assuming you continue to LBYM, I can't imagine the cost of living doubling in 20 years. Insurance will cost more, but we'll have medicare. Gas will cost less, but we'll drive less. Food is one item that will probably go up, but I hear we don't eat as much when we get old.
If what one needs to live on doubles over the next 20 years, I know a lot of people who may have to get by on half as much.
Aw, man, don't let that secret get out or everyone will be trying to LBYM and cut their inflation rates...

BTW a fixed-rate mortgage lets you pay off your debt with steadily smaller dollars.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:41 AM   #36
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Leaving aside questions about whether the official CPI numbers are a reasonably proxy for personal rates of inflation (for our household they are not), those thinking of retiring overseas might want to look at the CPI numbers for their intending retirement location: Inflation, List by Country

Its also worth bearing in mind that in a lot of the countries experiencing high inflation, basic necessities like food and transport make up a much higher percentage of the "basket" used to compile the index.

As a question, if so many countries around the world experience high inflation, how confident are we that the developed countries that we live in will not experience high(er) inflation in the future? We have in the past (e.g. 1970s) and in the course of planning for a 40-50 year retirement IMHO it would be dangerous to assume that we will not have a similar experience again.

Given the current macro environment, I wouldn't expect it anytime soon (famous last words), but the possibility of encountering a period of several years of high single digit inflation (or worse) is a serious worry for those of us living in places where TIPS or equivalent are not available.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:15 AM   #37
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Aw, man, don't let that secret get out or everyone will be trying to LBYM and cut their inflation rates...

BTW a fixed-rate mortgage lets you pay off your debt with steadily smaller dollars.
So, should there be a separate 'inflation rate' for retirees? I always assumed that expenses just shifted to other areas but now you've got me thinking.......hmmmmm.

Of course, just moving 30 miles from Mass. to NH (or better yet, FL) would save me about $5K a year in taxes alone, but that's another story for another day.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:20 AM   #38
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Leaving aside questions about whether the official CPI numbers are a reasonably proxy for personal rates of inflation (for our household they are not), those thinking of retiring overseas might want to look at the CPI numbers for their intending retirement location: Inflation, List by Country

Its also worth bearing in mind that in a lot of the countries experiencing high inflation, basic necessities like food and transport make up a much higher percentage of the "basket" used to compile the index.

As a question, if so many countries around the world experience high inflation, how confident are we that the developed countries that we live in will not experience high(er) inflation in the future? We have in the past (e.g. 1970s) and in the course of planning for a 40-50 year retirement IMHO it would be dangerous to assume that we will not have a similar experience again.

Given the current macro environment, I wouldn't expect it anytime soon (famous last words), but the possibility of encountering a period of several years of high single digit inflation (or worse) is a serious worry for those of us living in places where TIPS or equivalent are not available.

I'm not looking forward to high inflation, but if I remember correctly, during the high inflation 70's you could get CD's paying 15%. Sure, that just kept up with the inflation but for a few years you could almost double your money on CDs and then when inflation cooled you had a nice stack of cash!
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:54 AM   #39
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I've tracked my expenses with Quicken for at least 14 years and with another program before that. I have not experienced the inflation that everyone talks about. My expenses have been nearly flat for the last 6 years. My homeowner's insurance has gone up 2.1% per year in the last 20 years despite having inflation coverage and insuring a house that has more than tripled in value. Sure, a few categories have gone up faster but some have decreased. We eat out more so that has gone up but out grocery costs have gone down. There are things we no longer buy because we already have but we spend more on vacations and other stuff like that.

I'm sure everyone has a different experience. But I have a hard time seeing the hyperinflation that some people get so excited about, now, in the past couple of decades, or in the next couple.
Wow, I wish I was able to hold it down like that. Don't you consume gasoline, have healthcare insurance or have any college tuition to deal with in your household. Here in Texas, also seeing large increases in water bill.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:08 PM   #40
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Excellent reading for anyone interested in 2012 forecasts and predictions Investing in 2012: Get ahead of forecaster folly - The Washington Post
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These are my 10 forecasts as to what the forecasters will be forecasting for 2012:
Stocks will trounce bonds
Housing has bottomed
Election forecasts
The economy is better than the data suggest
The apocalypse is coming
Banks will come roaring back
Hyperinflation
Buy gold
Buy emerging markets
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