manipulated statistics, not inflation

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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Bylo Selhi » 08 Nov 2010 14:30

Jo Anne wrote:I first noticed this when I couldn't fit the bread in my old toaster. So if you are using bread for sandwiches, you have to buy more.

I thought you were off carbs ;)

But in any case this also means that it's now harder to reduce your carb intake. Perhaps we should invent and market a slicer that splits a thick slice of bread into two half-width slices so as to get 28 slices out of a loaf. (Most of our bread comes out of a bread making machine so we have total control over the ingredients and the thickness of every slice.)
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Jo Anne » 08 Nov 2010 14:37

Bylo Selhi wrote:
Jo Anne wrote:I first noticed this when I couldn't fit the bread in my old toaster. So if you are using bread for sandwiches, you have to buy more.

I thought you were off carbs ;)


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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Dennis » 08 Nov 2010 15:14

Bread was meant to be sliced t..h..i..c..k. MMMMM :D
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby pmj » 09 Nov 2010 00:04

It's much easier to cut thin slices if you keep the bread in the fridge. But if you're stuck with stock sliced loaves - slicing a thick slice in half is quite practical for whole-grain bread 8).

Our baker stocks most loaves unsliced - but the slicing machine there only offers thick or extra-thick. I suspected that the slice thicknesses have increased, but I don't use the sliced loaves very often, and we don't have any old slices to check against :(.

Loblaws 1-kg peanut butter jars are the latest victim of re-sizing - just 750 g now :shock:. And almost as serious will be the complete disruption of my workshop storage system :evil:.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Bylo Selhi » 09 Nov 2010 07:47

pmj wrote:Loblaws 1-kg peanut butter jars are the latest victim of re-sizing - just 750 g now :shock:
Our local ValuMart (owned by Loblaws) actually did something even more egregious. First they raised the price of the 1Kg jar from $3.99 to $5.29. Then a few weeks later they started stocking the "new" 750g jars without changing the price. They've since dropped the price back to $3.99. But that's still a 33% stealth increase. Jimmy Carter must be laughing all the way to the bank.

And almost as serious will be the complete disruption of my workshop storage system :evil:.

You too? :shock: :rofl:
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby brucecohen » 12 Nov 2010 09:18

This morning NPR ran this piece about a US govt CPI shopper. They do take volume changes into account.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby mac1214 » 12 Nov 2010 11:33

I wonder if Statistics Canada takes into consideration the fact that products become smaller and sell at the same price. My guess is probably not, which is probably one of the many reasons why it comes out with it's low inflation figures. Another good reason to not buy RRB's.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby bones1 » 12 Nov 2010 12:02

mac1214 wrote:I wonder if Statistics Canada takes into consideration the fact that products become smaller and sell at the same price. My guess is probably not, which is probably one of the many reasons why it comes out with it's low inflation figures. Another good reason to not buy RRB's.


By your own admission, you're just guessing, so it's rather silly to use a guess to draw a conclusion about RRBs.

Has your own household inflation deviated much from the published CPI over the years? Mine hasn't. Many things, such as new cars, have hardly inflated at all (and the technology has gotten much better). OTOH, some things have definitely inflated a lot. It all balances out, and my personal inflation is pretty-much where the CPI says it is.

With Ontario HST, I expect Ontario (and BC) residents will experience higher inflation over the next year than the published Canada stats. But that's a one-year blip.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Jo Anne » 12 Nov 2010 13:06

bones1 wrote:With Ontario HST, I expect Ontario (and BC) residents will experience higher inflation over the next year than the published Canada stats. But that's a one-year blip.


I dunno. I don't see any sign of building materials coming down in price by 8%. Anyone who is doing any on-going home renovations won't think it's a one-year blip. We just finished our main bathroom, and the extra PST HST added about $1,300 to the total.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby bones1 » 12 Nov 2010 13:17

mac1214 wrote:I wonder if Statistics Canada takes into consideration the fact that products become smaller and sell at the same price. My guess is probably not, which is probably one of the many reasons why it comes out with it's low inflation figures. Another good reason to not buy RRB's.


To follow up, you are wrong, according to this Stats Canada publication:

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/62-557-x/62-557-x1996001-eng.pdf

They do standardize quantity. They also try to compensate for quality improvements, but admit that's much harder.

Jo Anne wrote:I don't see any sign of building materials coming down in price by 8%. Anyone who is doing any on-going home renovations won't think it's a one-year blip.


No, I only meant it's a one-year blip in the compounded inflation index. That is, it's not going up 8% this year, then an additional 8% next year, etc. It's just going up 8% this one time. (Unless Dalton can figure out another way to tax us more next year... more eco fees, health taxes, carbon tax, green energy tax, etc.)
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby kcowan » 13 Nov 2010 08:26

It will be fascinating to see the disclaimers and * that the statisticians use in the coming year.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Bylo Selhi » 04 May 2011 21:12

Statscan gives its shopping basket a shakeup
Statistics Canada is revamping its approach to measuring the price of goods to reflect new realities about today’s consumer experience: Spending habits are changing more rapidly, and the lifespan of products is growing ever shorter. And starting next year, the agency plans to revise the basket every three years or less because consumption patterns are changing more quickly...


But this makes no sense:
As an example, personal computers have an average life span of a year or less, compared with four years in the eighties, said Cliff Grevler, partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group in Toronto.
Back in the 80s and 90s, both the processing power of PCs and the ability of software to consume it, grew at such a fast rate that PCs had to be replaced every three years. Nowadays, that growth rates have slowed such that it's entirely practical to keep a PC for five years or more. I don't understand how this "expert" comes up with "an average life span of a year or less." He must own a lot of Intel, Microsoft and Dell stock.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby IdOp » 04 May 2011 21:53

Bylo Selhi wrote:I don't understand how this "expert" comes up with "an average life span of a year or less." He must own a lot of Intel, Microsoft and Dell stock.

+1

(Posted from a 900MHz i686, which only recently upgraded a 500MHz pentium-class cpu.)
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby kcowan » 05 May 2011 05:47

Mr. Evans cited a diminished weighting in groceries as an example of a shifting consumer tide. The importance of food bought from supermarkets has dwindled over the years while food purchased from restaurants has climbed, he said.
I know they have a questionable methodology for the food basket that rewards people who pay the same amount for smaller quantities with a zero pice increase, but how will they come up with an apples to apples methodology for restaurant meals?

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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby adrian2 » 05 May 2011 06:47

Hat tip to PrefBlog: The Behaviour of Consumer Prices Across Provinces

Gordon Wilkinson, from Bank of Canada, wrote:Measures of core inflation enable a central bank to distinguish price movements that are transitory and generated by non-monetary events from those that are more permanent and related to prior monetary policy decisions. The author uses standard statistical measures to assess the behaviour of consumer prices across provinces and identify price components with more divergent price patterns. The results indicate that energy, shelter and tobacco prices are the most volatile across provinces. Very large price movements restricted to one or a few provinces suggest that the forces or events triggering those movements may be province specific and unrelated to national demand pressures. Such results suggest that constructing a type of core inflation measure called the “trimmed mean” that excludes components with exceptionally large price changes at the provincial level may offer an alternative means of assessing underlying inflationary pressures.
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Re: manipulated statistics, not inflation

Postby Shakespeare » 13 Feb 2012 23:00

CPI retooling could result in big savings for Ottawa, business - The Globe and Mail
The agency is more than 18 months into the CPI Enhancement Initiative, which attempts to improve the precision of its work. Statscan received extra funding to tackle the "measurement bias" – cash that rises to as much as $15-million in the fifth year of the effort – and make the index more attuned to Canadians’ spending habits.


However:

The flaws of a voluntary National Household Survey - The Globe and Mail
The “basket” whose price is measured by the CPI is constructed from the Survey of Household Spending (SHS), a voluntary survey. In the past, the problem of non-response was corrected by using the census’s benchmarks in order to produce a sample that was representative of the population as a whole.....

The move to annual CPI baskets means that more is going to be asked of the SHS, even as its ability to answer is steadily eroded. Worse, we won’t even know in which direction any given sample may be biased.
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