Friday, June 11, 2010

Deflation and gasoline prices.

This article indicates that the U.S. money supply has declined rapidly in recent months, despite runaway government spending.

How this could happen would be the subject of a full length textbook. Suffice it to say that the money supply is composed of many elements, including bank loans. When credit is tight, the money supply gets smaller, regardless of government spending.

A major indicator of the direction of inflation is the price of gasoline. The price of gasoline fell during and immediately before Memorial Day weekend. The price has not moved back up since then. It is unusual for gasoline prices to fall before and during a summer holiday. It is unusual for any prices to fall during a period of runaway government spending.

It is possible that the credit bubble that begin its collapse around 2007 is still collapsing - that the government stimulus bill (and related spending) is merely delaying the collapse. If that is true, the deflation we are experiencing is, ultimately, a good thing. The economy will not turn around until prices get to where they are going, even though the ride down will be painful.

If this scenario is allowed to play out, it would mean lower prices for real estate (accompanied by pain, foreclosures, bankruptcy, etc.), but, ultimately, an increase in sales at the new lower price levels.