Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bottom-Up Inflation

As mentioned in another post, I think inflation is high and likely higher than the official figures and economists' forecasts.  I recently read a well written report from a noted economist that is sticking to his long-term deflationary forecasts.   

He and others could be correct, but from my standpoint - mostly as a consumer - I see the opposite:  
  1. Inflation is a big worry amongst Mainland Chinese with almost two-thirds citing it as their biggest concern according to a recent FT blog.
  2. A friend put some numbers to my inkling that supermarket prices have increased.   After a few weeks away from HK she noticed that a jar of basic yogurt had increased from HK$19 to HK$24, or 26%.  This seems about right.  I've noticed that basic items such as bread, fruit, and vegetables seem to be significantly more expensive in the last several months.
  3. The menu at my local Vietnamese restaurant has taped over prices with higher ones.  I've seen this in other restaurants. 
  4. Hong Kong taxi fares will increase 7-9% in December 2013 (article is here)
  5. Hong Kong's "10 Dollar Store” should now be referred to as the "12 Dollar Store".  Likely anticipating more price changes, the chain was renamed, "Living Plaza", from "Jusco $10 Plaza". (This actually happened a year ago as reported here).   Format of the store is similar to Japan’s 100-yen store.  Virtually everything the store is the same low price.   (A friend's wife - a Japanese speaker - noted that Japan’s 100-yen stores have NOT raised their prices in many years and that they have better quality products).
Forecast deflation may come to be.  Mainland growth is slowing.  HK retail sales appear to be down some 10-20% YOY.  Property prices seem to be softening.  

But from the ground level, I see more evidence of inflation. 

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