Wall Street History
Let’s take a brief look at food prices, courtesy of the good folks
at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Economic
Research Service. [ers.usda.gov.]
In the “all food” category, including ‘food away from home’ and
‘food at home,’ prices rose 4.0 percent in 2007, following price
increases of 2.4 to 3.4 percent for the previous three years.
In the ‘food at home’ category, “meats, poultry, and fish”
collectively rose 3.8 percent in 2007, with poultry, specifically,
up 5.2 percent and fish and seafood up 4.6 percent.
“Dairy products” rose 7.4 percent in 2007, while “fruits and
vegetables” rose 3.8 percent.
Eggs? Try up a whopping 29.2 percent last year.
In 2008, though, all food is projected to increase 3.0 to 4.0
percent, but if you’re thinking that some prices today are really
rising faster than the pace listed above for 2007, well, you’re
In January, poultry rose 8.3 percent from a year earlier, and eggs
are now up 34.7 percent over January 2007. Dairy prices are
suddenly up 12.8 percent from last year at this time, with milk up
17.7 percent vs. January ’07. It shouldn’t be a real surprise,
given the preceding, that cheese is also up 14.0 percent over the
I think you’d agree these are all substantial increases; far greater
than any increase in your paycheck, I imagine.
Now let’s look at the average price of gasoline at the pump
(nationwide, all grades), utilizing data culled from the Energy
Information Administration [eia.doe.gov].
As of 3/3/08 the nationwide average price was up to $3.21 and
on the West Coast it hit exactly $3.50. Yikes!
As recently as 2/22/99, the average nationwide price of gasoline
at the pump was just $0.94. Back in 1999, the average price for a
barrel of oil was about $18. As I write (3/5/08), I see oil is
trading at around $103.
One more gold. As recently as 3/8/02, or six years ago, gold
was at $290 an ounce. Today, $988.
What does it all spell? Inflation.
Wall Street History returns next week.