RateWatch #161- The I-Monster at The Ball Park
by Dick Lepre
The I-Monster at the Ball Park
One of the favorite topics of RateWatch has been our stories about the I-Monster. The I-Monster (inflation) first visited RateWatch over three years ago in "The True Story of the I-Monster." We later interviewed him in "Interview With the I-Monster" and more recently in "The I-Monster Pays A Visit."
I went to the Oakland Coliseum Friday evening to watch an A's game and was stunned to find the I-Monster sitting in the row in front of me. He was wearing a baseball cap with the Marilyn Manson logo and had on a white T-shirt with a silk-screen image of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the back. I purchased a bottle of cold water for $3.00, tapped him on the shoulder, said "this is your doing" and handed the bottle to him. A conversation started.
I-Monster: 3 bucks for a quart and a half of water. I love it. It's hard to understand why people complain about the price of gasoline when they are paying $8.00 a gallon for water. Hey, Kevin Brown! $15,000,000 a year. Gotta' love that guy.
L: Watcha' been up to?
I-M: I don't know. It's been a bad decade. Damn Greenspan. I'll be glad when the Millenium is over. It's gotten so hard to convince people that inflation is good for them. $2.50 for a Coke! Hey, vendor. They get $3.25 for this over at Candlestick. Do you want to keep driving that 1984 Dodge?
L: Look, I have to write these newsletters. I need material. Can you be serious for a few minutes and answer some questions about inflation?
I: About me?
L: Yes. First of all, are you dead?
I: No, I am at a ball game. A couple of months ago the A's were almost dead. Now they are the hottest team in baseball. I'll make a comeback. Wait 'til next year.
L: What about 'the new economy'?
I: People say that things are different now. People aren't asking for higher wages even though the labor market is tight. Hogwash. They change jobs, get a $35,000 new car as a bonus and keep the same wage. Or they get a piece of some Internet startup and cash in for $3 mil a year later. They are making lots of money and when they start spending it all, I'll be back on top. Hey, two of those $3.00 hot dogs please.
L: What about the likely Fed hike this coming week?
I: That's just it. They move the rate around like Greg Maddux pitches - inside, outside, up down, 25 basis points up 25 basis points down. I used to get a fast ball down the middle when they were asleep, pow! - the double grand slam - 8% inflation.
L: Have you heard about the Echo Boom?
I: You know, at first I though they were saying "eco-boom" as in recycling. I hate recycling. Recycling does nothing for me. Then I read "Echo Boom" in a magazine and realized what they were talking about. I think that I have a shot with this new generation. The Gen-X'ers just aren't behind me.
L: I noticed your shirt with the graph of the Dow. Are you into the market?
I: Hell yes. I made a ton day-trading earlier this year. I loved watching those Net stocks soar. I felt great the day that Amazon.com had a market cap greater than half of General Motors. People will pay $130 for a share of stock in some company that hasn't made a buck but they complain about spending $1.75 for a gallon of gasoline.
L: Don't feel so bad. Housing prices in Berkeley just 10 miles north of here are up 30% this year.
I: Are you kidding? Berkeley? Up 30%? You know there is hope. Big time inflation in Russia last year. Berkeley this year. Interesting.
The I-Monster stood up, moved 2 seats to the left, sat down again and smiled.