Deflation: Here, Now

I’ve been warning of deflation for some time. Specifically, I predicted 1-1/2 to 2 years of deflation, followed by hyperinflation.

Well, deflation is here.

Specifically, consumer prices in the U.S. have declined the most since records began in 1947 (producer prices are also plummeting).

As Bloomberg writes:

Today’s report signals deflation, or a prolonged slide in prices, may become another hazard facing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and President-elect Barack Obama. Deflation could worsen what some economists already call the deepest recession in decades, by making debts harder to pay off and countering the impact of Fed interest-rate cuts.

“We are moving into an environment where prices are falling across the board,” David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “That is going to continue. Deflation is spreading across the economy.”

***
Consumer prices were forecast to fall 0.8 percent, according to the median forecast of 77 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from a decline of 1.2 percent to a gain of 0.4 percent. Costs excluding food and energy were forecast to rise 0.1 percent, the survey showed.

Many leading economists have recently changed their predictions to forecast deflation in 2009. And central bankers, prime ministers, and big treasury bond investors are all very worried about deflation. But I agree with the analysts who say that deflation is here, now (see this and this).

The Austrian school of economics points out that inflation and deflation are really about the size of the money supply, and not prices. The reason we have deflation is that it is difficult to pump money into an airplane with a hole in its side.

Remember, “cash is king” during a deflation, but gold may do well during the later stages of deflation.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08595775885660572070 phoebus

    This is confusing. I don’t understand inflation – deflation – contraction – more money – less money – and then … how can a decline in prices indicate a machine slowing down. Aren’t low prices good for consumers?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05678841372682695630 Joseph Hutchison

    This is off your specific topic, but I read that there is $62 trillion of “bad paper” in the world financial system and that this figure exceeds the entire world’s GDP for 2007 by about $2 trillion. This sounds frightening—but I don’t understand it enough to be frightened … yet. Can you explain how this “bad paper” came to exist, who assigns it is value, and why we—ordinary people, I mean—just ignore it?Sign me “Ignorant in Colorado”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05678841372682695630 Joseph Hutchison

    I meant the last sentence of my previous post to end thusly: “… and why we—ordinary people, I mean—can’t just ignore it…”I hope that makes more sense….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08936509772500860184 GoldenPoet

    If oil prices stay low, I can see deflation continuing in the short term, with prices coming down and a lack of liquidity/consumer cash. However it oil prices go up, such as in the event of a war, the cost of transport will kick in hyperinflation. Of course if famine strikes, all bets are off. The predicted die-off begins. Can you say HOARDING!Gracehttp://flourishingincrisis.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10891277931441055038 George Washington

    Phoebus, this is from today’s Guardian:Another effect of falling prices is to increase the burden of any given amount of debt, even as banks and households are sharply paring debt, or deleveraging, in reaction to financial turmoil and a wave of bad economic news.”The problem with negative inflation is that the real value of your debts is increasing,” Societe Generale economist James Nixon said.”In a deleveraging cycle you need negative inflation like you need a hole in the head.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04523571170684647583 RG

    Joseph, think of the bad paper as counterfeit dollars that until recently were passing as regular dollars through the system. Then rather suddenly people realized that they were bad paper – people stopped accepting them as payment. Why can’t you ignore it? Because all that bad paper already made it’s way into your pension funds and your banks’ vaults. If the Man traded out real dollars for the bad paper in an equal ratio, the value of your real dollar would become 1 cent instantly. I’m not sure why the Man hasn’t come clean about that to us yet, but maybe he’s trying to get his real dollars back first.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00941512073113913639 Yvette

    Well, it sure feels good to say I voted for Ron Paul with a write in now. He was warning us about this for 20 years. It was the main reason I supported the man besides some of his drawbacks. He was the only candidate who understood this issue and had a plan to address it. I guess America just did not want to listen and now they once again embrace the horrid, ineffective, partisan broken 2 party garbage we have in this country. Obama won’t fix it, McCain would have not fixed it and both parties(republicans AND democrats) caused this situation.Wake up America…..we need a 3rd party to break the back of this stupidity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08595775885660572070 phoebus

    ok trying to understand: demand stops (people holding their wallet tight due to reports, news, word of mouth) so prices drop and the banks are hoarding (no more lending to consumers, etc, less demands for loans) so less money working in the economy (contraction) transactions dropping. Simplefied understanding though, I’m not an expert but the figures are mind wobbling. I know already money is created out of thin air anyway with the devastating consequences over long periods of time and corrupt inclinations.thx.

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