How Much Is A $140 Jacket Worth Today?

Posted on January 21, 2009


The political interregnum is over. President Barack Obama is in the Oval Office. The work of change begins.

First agenda item: The economy. Have we all been wildly exaggerating the economic crisis of 2008-2009? Or is it going to be even worse than we can imagine? Are we going to have a bad recession, or is it going to be a depression?

And here’s an interesting question: Should we be more worried about inflation? Or deflation? A case in point: I recently made a spontaneous purchase at J.C. Penney in Salisbury. I bought a nice J. Ferrar winter jacket, originally priced $140, for $29.99. My total savings, $100.01. It says so right on the receipt.

Begging the question: Is this jacket worth $140? Was it ever worth $140? Is it worth $29.99? What will it be worth next month? For the record, the jacket was made in China.

We are all waiting impatiently for the magic economic stimulus package. Tax cuts for the rich and jobs for the poor.

But suppose there is a worldwide oversupply of jackets, and cars, and every other sort of merchandise. If there is a worldwide oversupply of goods, doesn’t that mean there is a worldwide oversupply of capacity? And, not to put too fine a point on it, a worldwide oversupply of labor?

And yet I believe President Obama is absolutely correct when he says that there is much work to be done in the areas of infrastructure, education and health care. What a paradox! — Bernie Hayden