Sunday, March 21, 2010

2010 Inflation vs life style change

In 2009, Dung, Mat and Ahmad's personal inflation rates are 4%, 24% and 2.5% respectively representing the Rich, the Average and the Poor. Unfortunately this year we can't do a 1 to 1 comparison because Dung's business has expanded into main land China and his life style has drastically changed. Mat lost his job and now float between temporary freelance works. Ahmad on the other hand has ventured into politics and sort of get himself 'upgraded' into the Average arena. Unfortunately, none of their personal inflation rate can be used to represent our 'typical' experiences. All of them are going through a 'transition' in life rather than reflecting the general senses of inflation. But perhaps you are experiencing a transition in life too ?

When one is calculating his own personal inflation rate, it is important to differentiate value and cost. For example, a plate of used to be $1 fried mee is now $1.50; that would be a 50% increase as in it has inflated by as much as 50%. Like wise, if the $1 mee is now much smaller plate, it has inflated as well. But if you are no longer eating fried mee at a street stall, instead you pay $10 for a dish of mee in a nice deco restaurant nowadays, your inflation rate is NOT 10X ! You are merely having a change in life style.

The rise of cost on the same value is inflation. Inflation does not usually apply when you are comparing 2 different things with 2 different values.

2010 is an interesting year. While inflation was on the rise in 2009, inflation has finished rising in 2010 especially after March. If you do your grocery in hypermarkets, you may have already observed a rise of 15-30%. Certain goods haven't had an increase in price for the past 3 years, hence averaging out would annualized to a 6-9% inflation rate.

If you do your grocery in a wet market, the worst is over. Most of the stalls which haven't gone bankrupt yet have found new supplies. Most of the selling prices remain the same as last year. Generally the inflation remains stable at 3-5%.

Local or individual grocery stores on the other hand are still facing challenges. Some of them who manage to find wet market's supply chain manage to stay more competitive than hypermarkets. Others are struggling wondering if they should just close the store or relocate.

Night clubs, bars, restaurants and places for The Rich remains similar by large. Most of them face reduce in sales and therefore beef up their marketing and promotion deals to play catch up. There aren't much change in price. But one may find these service providers start to charge for all the little things that were used to be free last time.

There you go, 2010 is a year of stabilizing inflation. But the worst is NOT over yet. When the bail out funds end mid this year, the critical turning point would be if all those dump ass giants can stand on their own. Even if only ONE of them still collapse when the bail out fund withdraw, it will still tear down the whole economy creating the worst recession ever. But its unlikely. The old faulty finance system will most probably stay through out this decade, forex loop holes will continue etc. Perhaps it may crash in 2018 ... but for now, we are off the hook temporary.

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