By: Richard C. Cook
U.S. wholesale prices in July 2008 grew at the fastest rate since 1981. The cost of materials has risen 9.8 percent in the last twelve months, according to government data. While gasoline prices fell the week of August 18 to $3.74 a gallon, they remain far higher than the $2.40 a gallon of mid-2005. Meanwhile, the price of food at the grocery store continues to climb, while consumer purchasing power remains stagnant.
According to analyst Michael Hodges, average family income adjusted for inflation declined six percent from 1999 to 2005, and the drop has continued since then. With families no longer able to borrow on their shrinking home equity for purchasing power due to the collapse of the housing bubble, they have had to tap into their savings. According to Hodges, “As of summer 2007, savings were a negative 1.3 percent, an all-time low.” ( Grandfather Economic Report , August 2008)
The government claimed that GDP grew during the 2nd quarter of 2008—hence no recession—admitting at the same time that the chief driver of growth was the economic stimulus rebates sent by the IRS to taxpayers.