Sea of Troubles

➞ The Devaluation of Everything: The Perils of Panflation

The Economist this week has an excellent Leader on inflation beyond price.

Take the grossly underreported problem of “size inflation”, where clothes of any particular labelled size have steadily expanded over time. Estimates by The Economist suggest that the average British size 14 pair of women’s trousers is now more than four inches wider at the waist than it was in the 1970s. In other words, today’s size 14 is really what used to be labelled a size 18; a size 10 is really a size 14.

They go on to discuss the same effect in hotel rooms and ratings, frequent-flyer miles, academic grades and job titles.

Related is the tendency for grocery producers to release “new look packaging” that reduces the size of the contents while keeping the price the same, hoping that nobody notices. This price inflation by stealth seems an insidious force, slowly taking over one’s supermarket.