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The WSJ has a story about what would have been, in any other age, the epitamy of economic insanity – financing sneakers and sweaters. Read that, it’s … great.

I looked for a sweater comparison, over time. The best I could (easily) come up with were men’s shirts at JCPenney.


Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 12.02.44 PM


Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 12.00.57 PM

(Regular price is still less expensive than the 2019 sale and less than 60% off the non-sale 2019 model – plus one got the disco-safari theme…)


Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 12.09.05 PM

(See where this is going?)


Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 12.10.15 PM

(That’s in cents, not dollars…)

Today, one can finance a new, regular-priced shirt for several payments, each equal to about the total cost of a 1980 shirt, which was still 15 times more expensive than the same thing fifty years earlier. “Inflation” ain’t the word anymore.

These are cheaply manufactured goods whose nominal production costs have fallen (in and of themselves) due to technology and offshoring, etc. Still, regular price to regular price, the modern equivalent is fifty times more expensive than the same thing 90 years before. Averaging the (easily) available IRS data on average incomes from 1920 and 1929, the 1928 American annual wage was about $2,200. Apples to sweaters, the average American, now, should be earning $110,000 per year. Yet, somehow the BLS reports that the true 2019 pay is only $47K, which itself seems a tad high. You’re 57% behind the price of shirts at JCP. Thank God there’s the Goodwill Store, right?

Sorcery is the gift that keeps on taking.