panflation

The Economist has an excellent piece in the latest issue about panflation- the inflation of everything from clothes sizes to grade inflation to job titles. We have superior suites in the past, but now that sounds awful, and we want “luxury suites”. Economy class is no longer just that- airlines now have names like voyageur class. And how many of us can attest to the number of ‘vice presidents’ at banks we have met?

Interestingly, the Economist points out that even sizes of women’s clothes have been inflated. Today’s size 14 is what really used to be size 18 30 years ago.

The usual cure, monetary and fiscal tightening, will not work for panflation. Women will never squeeze back into their old clothes unless they reject size inflation. Instead, it is time for everybody to tighten belts (literally) and fight all sorts of inflationary flab.

It’s a simple stark truth that most people are able to point anecdotal evidence to, but a very important truth nonetheless, that we tend to overlook- any type of inflation is bad in the long run if it goes rampantly out of control, because it distorts perceived information and corrodes value.

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