Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Price of a Turkey c. 1907

One of the things an investor should understand is the inevitable debasement of currency. But, every price series is different. Back in September we had a blurb at the end of a post:

If I recall correctly, the Ming Dynasty had to repudiate paper money in the 1450's to end a hyperinflation.

Update: I am pleased with myself.
Found this quote from "A History of Money":

1448 Hyperinflation in China
The Ming note nominally worth 1,000 cash has a market value of only three.

p 183

Here, from Division of Labor, are some topical datapoints:

From the Nov. 17, 1907 NYT:

A turkey at 35 cents a pound is not to be considered by the average housekeepers, and other things one is used to serving at a Thanksgiving dinner being equally expensive, very few persons feel that they can afford to follow the old custom of giving a big family dinner on a National feast day.
We bought our turkey today for $0.69 per pound (I could have paid less and I could have paid more).

Thirty-five cents in 1907 was approximately $7.50 in 2006. Ouch...at $150 (equivalent) for a twenty pound bird, I am not sure I would be hosting Thanksgiving dinner either.

The American Farm Bureau at their "Voice of Agriculture" site claims that this year's dinner for 10 will average around $43.

Here's the nominal and real costs for Thanksgiving dinner since 1986.

More on Thanksgiving prices c. 1907
A follow up on yesterday's discussion of turkey prices, the Nov. 19, 1907 NYT reports the following prices for Thanksgiving staples (perhaps an undergraduate paper lies in these data?):