Dateline: Chicago, United States
Last summer, I shared a somewhat tongue-in-cheek perspective on how grocery stores in Vietnam are stealing from the populace thanks to the worthless Vietnamese dong.
The Vietnam government has done such a poor job of managing their currency – or managing it at all – that there is no way stores that charge odd prices can give the proper change to customers much of the time.
You literally get nickeled and dimed at the cash register. Almost. Every. Single. Time.
This week, I’m in the home stretch of my brief visit back to the United States before heading to eastern Europe, and I’ve noticed an economic disaster that puts Vietnam to shame.
You see, grocery prices in Vietnam are still pretty reasonable by western standards. Inflation in Vietnam is certainly putting the brakes on consumer spending, it’s not as out of control as what I experienced today.
I’m spending a few days in the windy, frozen tundra that is the American midwest. I grew up with this weather for eighteen years and while I’m not a big fun-in-the-sun guy, I can’t say I miss having my ears become so cold that they burn.
In fact, I’ve actually begun to wonder why almost ANYONE lives in any wintery Rust Belt city these days when there are so many other options that not only provide more freedom, but better opportunities for those with any kind of decent idea.
The problem with US inflation
A little while ago, I went into a local grocery store here in the Chicago suburbs for some lunch. I lost thirty pounds I didn’t really need to lose in my most recent six months in Asia, and I’ve been trying my best to keep up the healthy eating style that caused that weight loss.
The prices I had to pay to enjoy that healthy eating style are nothing short of outrageous.
A cup of yogurt with a few bran flakes on top cost $2.99.
An eight-ounce container of fresh juice was $4.99.
Prices on some of my favorite fresh fruits (at least as fresh as they can be in the United States) were sky high.
It cost me $12 to get a few items that don’t even make up a whole lunch. And I don’t usually have a huge appetite, having adapted to a more healthy “grazing” style of eating used overseas.
American inflation is very much a real thing. I spoke at my Passport to Freedom event this past weekend about that the idea that small changes over time can make a big impact.
Just as motivational speakers frequently suggest making tiny, tiny improvements in your life each day to yield huge results over the course of time, I discussed how this theory can work against you… bankrupting you slowly.
In that same way, inflation is a force that creeps up on society like water creeping up on a frog in a pot.
You don’t have to be a slave to inflation
The US government and their media cronies love to point to places like Thailand and Uruguay and Russia and say how “uncivilized” those cultures are because they don’t share every American ideal.
And while the financial media in the west has written the obituary for emerging markets, American inflation is as much a real force as inflation in economies that actually have solid, sustainable growth prospects.
Peter Schiff spoke about the concept of US inflation at our event this past weekend and laid waste to those who claim that things are “just fine” in the homeland.
To begin with, he noted that US inflation statistics aren’t really even accurate.
Ever since changes in the way inflation is measured in the United States twenty years ago, the government has been able to reduce the “headline number” for inflation by calculating “volatile” commodities like food prices separately from everything else.
Indices like the Consumer Price Index are merely inflation propaganda; economists have found enough holes to make it Swiss cheese.
Peter Schiff explained to us that anytime someone wants to claim that endless money printing is the right thing to do, they simply have to dismiss higher prices as some form of extremism.
When you control the numbers, you control perception. And that’s exactly what the government is doing.
Peter Schiff’s key takeaway on US inflation
Meanwhile, Peter told stories about just how bad the economy really is in the grassroots United States. Governments also fudge numbers about just how few people are unemployed, and to what degree, but using metrics like U-3 and U-6 unemployment.
Nobody really understands these numbers but they sound official and people just believe them.
Then, they make their shadow stats the “real numbers” that puppet members of the media share with a gullible public.
For instance, Peter Schiff spoke of how he had just purchased several pairs of shorts at the Gap for $5 each. After sitting on the shelf forever, the store marked them down to next to nothing.
Inflation is killing the US economy, which has few solid fundamentals to begin with other than a fading belief that “America is rich”. It’s not.
As Peter said, when China lets their currency rise and domestic demand there grows, the US will be even more screwed as the price of global goods rises along with it.
This is what happens when you don’t make anything, devalue the dollar, export endless money printing around the world, and rely on an age-old status as “reserve currency” and smoke and mirrors to keep the party going.
As Peter Schiff told us this weekend, the result is rarely pretty. Just look at any number of places that have suffered hyperinflation and you realize even 1/10th that level of shock would be disastrous to your savings.