Opinion: Funny how prices became no big deal
photo by: Contributed
May I be so bold as to note that the price of turkey is down this year? To be specific, a 16-pound turkey now costs an average $27.35. That’s a 5.6% drop from last Thanksgiving.
Making a big deal out of this would not be necessary had all things turkey not become an obsession two years ago. Remember the drama over a rise in the cost of Thanksgiving dinner so manageable that virtually no menus changed? Recall how the news channels couldn’t talk enough about a turkey shortage that, actually, didn’t exist?
But it is necessary now that food inflation has been much tamed. We mention this as a protest against the unwritten law that no good economic news may get good coverage — as long as Joe Biden is president.
This is so hard to admit that some Biden critics have resorted to recycling out-of-date bad news. Two months ago, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens lamented that the average price of a dozen eggs had risen 38% between January 2022 and May of this year. Had he updated these numbers to the time of publication, he would have had to observe that a dozen eggs currently cost half what they did in January and were roughly the same price as in 2018. Such misreporting helped answer his headline’s implied question: “Why So Many Americans Are So Down on Biden.”
About a year ago, Bloomberg Economics proclaimed that it was 100% certain that the United States was headed for a recession in the next 12 months. In other words, there wasn’t even a tiny, tiny chance that we wouldn’t be in a recession by now. The commentary portrayed this forecast as a “blow to Biden.”
Guess what? That blow never blew. Not only are we nowhere near a recession, but the economy just posted a phenomenal annual growth rate of 1.2% in the third quarter. Had that number not been adjusted for inflation, the growth rate would have been 4.9%.
Speaking of inflation, the U.S. gauge for inflation is now below 3%. Prices have cooled faster in the U.S. than in any of the other G7 countries.
As for workers, unemployment is near its lowest rate since the 1970s. And starting this year, wages are again growing faster than inflation.
AAA forecasts that the number of Americans driving over Thanksgiving will rise by 1.7% with more traveling over 50 miles. A possible explanation, in addition to rising wages, are lower gas prices. They are down by an average 43 cents a gallon from a year ago. In 10 states, they’ve dipped below $3. And for those who are flying, air fares are down 13%.
New car prices fell last month. That goes contrary to predictions that the autoworkers’ strike, now settled, would send them skyward. Used car prices last month also dropped, and by an impressive 7% from a year ago.
Why Biden’s approval ratings on the economy are so low remains close to inexplicable. It may be that the public is simply in a bad mood generally. For many, the heartbreaking news out of Ukraine and the Middle East dominates their concerns.
We understand that bad economic news gets more attention than good news — except when Donald Trump is president. He tweeted self-praise every time the Dow inched up 5 points.
Biden now has his hands full leading the West through two dangerous wars. But old Joe is doing this with care while simultaneously overseeing a robust economy. He seems the opposite of impaired, age-wise or otherwise.
And so, this Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks that Biden is in charge.
— Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist with Creators.