No point, just cool: The New York Times shows what Americans spend their money on—and how fast prices are rising.
Check out gasoline: it’s up 26 percent, year over year. But that’s nothing compared to fuel oil: up almost 50 percent. Energy’s up across the board, as are plane tickets, and plenty of food items. (What’s up with eggs? Why are they going up twice as fast as other dairy products?)
Great graphic, fun tool, fascinating data—but beware, if you don’t have a lot of time to waste this afternoon, do not click.
Eggs are going up because of the rising price of feed for chickens, which are mostly corn-fed. Cows are able to eat some other foods—including the by-products of making ethanol from corn among others like grain and grasses. But chickens are almost always corn-fed, everywhere in the country, and that means more expensive chickens, but also more expensive eggs. Check out the earning forecasts of chicken companies like Tyson and Perdue these days.So in this case, which came first? The expensive chicken, the expensive egg, or expensive motor fuel?
Maybe I’ve just been spending too much time at Junk Charts (http://junkcharts.typepad.com/), but this graphic seems poorly arranged, to me. I think it would be more useful if the sectors were either arranged by inflation or by the fraction of typical spending. As it is, it’s kind of scrambled, so it’s hard to make sense of the pattern.I completely agree though… it’s a lot of fun to poke around with those numbers!
Matt the Engineer
Take a look at the transportation sector. Only a little piece on the right-hand corner is not car related, and most of that little piece is airplane related.
Amazing the difference between bicycles and cable, obviously amazing bicycles aren’t even in the transportation sector.
Great points, Michael. Americans apparently spend 4 times as much money on cable television as they do on bicycling.Can you say “obesity epidemic”?Did you notice that sewing is also in recreation, not clothing?
Steve Davis,Consider eggs v pork. Pork prices are down, while eggs prices are up. Pork is, if anything, more grain-intensive than eggs. That is, eggs convert corn into eggs more efficiently than pigs convert corn into pork. So there must be more to the story than just grain prices.
Alan, you might actually be right about there being more to the story.Consider this March 23, 2008 article from the Chicago Tribune, which suggests that recent improvements in animal welfare for chickens are a contributing factor to higher egg prices. The prices are therefore reflecting the costs of raising chickens in a more healthy and humane way. Which is, of course, good for both the chickens who lay the eggs and for the people who eat them. Supply and demand are other contributing factors to the higher prices.********As for (personal) sewing, I’m thinking that they listed this under recreation cuz it’s considered to be more of a hobby these days, rather than something essential. They would probably list manufactured / already-sewn items under clothing, though…
Interesting that sales of new cars and trucks are in the same category and down 1.1%. Would love to see that data broken out by model and/or class. My guess is SUV/Truck sales are down significantly more than compacts.
Matt the Engineer
Alan,I’m not sure I buy that argument. Can’t pigs switch to other grains whereas chickens can’t? There isn’t much, say, rice ethanol produced, so prices may have stayed flat (I haven’t looked up any numbers). I’m sure this will change in the next year or two as farmers convert other grain crops to corn crops.Of course this doesn’t explain why prices actually went down – they should just rise less fast – so you’re probably right about other factors.
Greens can talk about pigs and chickens costing less or more– but shouldn’t there be a suffering index to acknowledge just why pigs are so cheap?My nephew raised three pigs last year on his folks farm in Vermont. They ate sour cream, all kinds of food– he kept it cheap– they were happy– at least until the day he shot them and butchered them.What my nephew figured out after a year with his pigs was that ADM and the big Pigs in the Pig industry pack animals wall to wall inside tightly controlled “barns” because it is cheap.But the pigs get to move very little. They get “bedsores” from staying in place so much. And you can imagine an animal smarter than most of our dogs and cats locked in place with thousands of other pigs. How do you calculate “cheap” and add in the suffering these animals go through on their way from being alive to being bacon?
Shouldn’t newspapers also be under Education/Communication rather than Recreation?
Cows can always eat other cows, at least in the U.S.