15% increase in 8 months. Another entry for the Same-Meal-at-the-Same-Restaurant price index.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The size of a bite which inflation is taking out of every meal is accelerating for those of us who are not living at the top of an ivory tower fortress inside the D.C. Beltway.

Got lunch from Jimmy John’s yesterday. They fix up yummy sandwiches. 

I had turkey on French bread with provolone cheese. Split a large sandwich with my dining partner.  ‘Twas delish’.

Price was $14.99.  Yeah fifteen bucks for just the sandwich, to go, so nothing for the greedy state tax machine.

Last August the exact same sandwich was $12.99. Up an even $2.00.

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Same-Meal-at-the-Same-Restaurant price index increases 12% in 5 months. Oh, and a less tasty meal.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For another data point of inflation experienced by consumers, let’s consider the holiday meal at a restaurant here in Rancho Cucamonga.  Consider the contrast with the official CPI measurements.

This is third discussion on the same-meal-at-the-same-restaurant price index.

One of the nicer restaurants (perhaps nicer is only on my scale) in our area is called Mimi’s. They offer a limited selection of meals on holidays which are nicer than their usual entrée. Today two of the five main choices were either ham or turkey with identical side dishes of mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, green beans, choice of three appetizers, and choice of three desserts.

On Thanksgiving Day 2021 the meal cost was $25. On Easter day 2022 the meal cost was $28.

That is a $3 increase.

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Federal Reserve adopts rules restricting insider trading by insider staff.

The facade of the Federal Reserve Bank. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Fed formally approved rules which will provide significant restrictions on investment activities by regional bank presidents, senior staff, and a host of staff have access to market-moving information as a part of their job.

This follows multiple news reports of Fed officials who were trading securities with somewhat awkward timing, such as after decisions had been made and before the full impact hit the market or in anticipation of major decisions which would be made within days.

The Fed issued a press release on 2/18/22: FOMC follow adopts comprehensive new rules for investment and trading activity.

Here are a few comments in the press release, which provide a great summary of the new restrictions. I converted the comment into bullet points:

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Six more sentences for parents bribing their children into college.

Georgetown University, which along with USC, seems to be one of the more popular destination of parents in the college admissions scandal. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Been a while since I updated the sentences so richly earned by parents in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scam.  Six more parents have learned the consequences of cheating and bribing their darlings into schools, usually as fake athletes.

Punishment for not pleading guilty.

Of particular note is two men who went to trial earned 15 months and a year plus a day.  The other four in this update who all seem to have been into the scheme to roughly the same extent, earned 6 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 weeks, and 2 months.

See a pattern?

There is a brutal penalty to be paid in the United States for insisting on a trial by jury of your peers.  In this small sample, the two who demanded trial earned average of 13.5 months average. The four who pleaded out earned average of 6.5 weeks, or 1.6 months.

That is a difference of 11.9 months.  That is about a year. Or, 8.4 times longer.

Six sentences

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20th anniversary for Ulvog CPA.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Today, January 28, 2022, marks the twentieth anniversary of the Ulvog CPA firm.

It has been a joy to serve the nonprofit community for these two decades as an independent CPA firm. Focusing on the religious nonprofit community has been a professional honor and a personal delight.

Thanks to all the organizations who have made this journey possible.

Looking forward to many more years of serving churches and ministries.

God’s blessings to you all.

More explanation why the entire supply chain system is overloaded.

The supply chain is complicated. There is no switch you can throw to magically make all those connections smoothly work together again. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The supply chain for everything is tangle up to the extent it will take lots of time to function normally again.

Two articles describing the depth of issues:

  • Analogy of turning off a complex computer system. Some of the hundreds of components won’t work when you throw the ‘on’ switch.
  • Description of the demand side pressure on supply chain. All those trillions of federal dollars sloshing around have created demand which has overloaded distribution systems.

American Thinker – 12/11/21 – We broke everything in the name of Covid – Author ran a large IT department at one point in the past. Every few years they had to shut down the entire computer system so that the factory could go through maintenance of the electrical system.

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Record high inflation is going to continue and likely get worse.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There are a lot of indications the inflation rates we’ve seen in the last year or so are going to continue. My guess is we will see higher inflation in the next year than we did in 2021. Author of the article discussing PPP says he expects a shock in the CPI sometime in the next few months.

Merely a few recent items pointing towards sustained and even increasing inflation:

  • Dollar Tree is now $1.25 Tree.
  • Experienced farmer describes how severely inflation is hitting his operations. Those increases are going to appear on the store shelves soon.
  • Producer Price Index is accelerating. Indications that unprocessed and intermediate goods are going up far faster than what we’re seeing at retail, so expect accelerating inflation.
  • Unusually high lumber prices are back.
  • Decent prices on cars will be harder and harder to find.

Dollar Tree is now Dollar and a Quarter Tree – Bought a couple items at Dollar Tree. They all rang up at $1.25. Glanced around the store noticing all the signs said $1.25.I asked the clerk about it and he said everything in the store is now a dollar and a quarter.

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Who should we listen to? Who should we ignore?

Who should we listen to? Who, amongst our supposed leaders, has any idea what they are talking about? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

At a time when the media is telling us this Covid pandemic will continue forever and there are frequent variants that will kill us all dead, who should we actually be paying attention to?

The possibilities:

  • people who know how to spell epidemiology, or
  • actual epidemiologists, or
  • people who are so convinced that Covid is deadly that they don’t bother to protect themselves; these are the people who also routinely ignore the rules they dictate we must follow.

People who know how to spell epidemiology and actually know someone they went to school with who is an epidemiologist:

Tweet by Martin Kulldorff

“The vocal pro-lockdown “public health scientists”, with their limited knowledge of infectious disease epidemiology, will be the last to recognize the public health disaster they created.”

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One of the reasons why we are seeing record setting high inflation: staggering, astronomical level of federal spending.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The amount of money Congress has pumped into the economy in an attempt to fight the Covid pandemic is staggering. Don’t quite have enough adjectives to describe the amount of money that is forced into the economy without any corresponding increase in production.

The amount spent directly on the pandemic is more than four times the annual budget at the federal level.

This is one of the primary reasons we are seeing inflation rates running at a thirty year high.

A close cousin on the list of inflation causes is the Fed flooding the economy with liquidity.  See previous discussion: Just how much money has the Federal Reserve created out of thin air and injected into the economy?

I’ve pulled together the amount of money appropriated by Congress in 2020 and 2021 which are focused on fighting the pandemic and stimulating the economy. Here is my tally, with amount of funding in billions of dollars, date Congress passed the legislation, and name of the program:

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Educational institutions continue to shrink two years into the pandemic.

College classroom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The double whammy of Covid pandemic and government policies in reaction to the pandemic continue to hammer the educational sector. Unsettling thing is to consider these articles only discuss the current impact and not the long-term destruction of education for all students from pre-K to grad school.

Articles for you to consider:

  • Columbia University settles for a refund of fees their class-action lawsuit claiming refund of fees and tuition.
  • Freshman enrollment in colleges and universities continued to decline in fall 2021. The anticipated return of students who skipped matriculation in fall 2020 has not happened.
  • As an indicator of what is likely happening in all primary and secondary schools across the country, Washington state public schools estimate enrollment for the next two years will be down another 4.5% from their February 2021 estimate.

TaxProf – 11/27/21 – Columbia Settles Covid-19 Class Action Tuition Refund Suit For $12.5 Million – Looks like Columbia University got off easy. Students there established a class and were suing for refund of tuition and fees because they were prohibited from in-person classes and instead attended an Ivy League school on their monitor.

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Number of people drawing unemployment continues to improve, but very slowly, as of the start of November 2021.

The number of new claims for unemployment is slowly declining.

For the week ending 11/6/21 there were 267,000 new claims. While this is encouraging progress, keep in mind the number of people who are getting laid off is still far above the average of 212,000 per week all the way back in January and February 2020. We are still seeing more people laid off every week than before the pandemic began.

Here is a recap of newly unemployed over the last several months:

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Producer Price Index in October 2021 shows continuing inflation.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) in October 2021 continues to show unusually high and ongoing inflation. Increasing October was 0.6%, which follows a 0.5% increase in September and 0.7% increase in August.

The PPI has shown high inflation for all of 2021. The worst months were 1.2% in January, 1.0% in April, and 1.0% in July. Those extremes have not repeated for the last quarter, which is a small amount of good news.

Graph at the top of this post shows the monthly change and final demand (the total index in other words) in blue. The average of the monthly changes in green. The red line shows core change, which excludes food, energy, and trade.

The PPI was increasing around 0.4% the month until the end of 2020. Since then it has averaged 0.8% for 2021 through October. Ouch.

This index is explained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as follows:

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Another Fed official actively trading. This time in advance of major action by the Fed.

The facade of the Federal Reserve Bank. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Another senior official in the Federal Reserve had odd trades in 2020.  This brings to three the number of extremely senior Fed officials doing strange things.

On 2/28/20 the chairman of the Federal Reserve issued a statement saying that the evolving coronavirus would require close monitoring by the Federal Reserve. Unusual release also indicated there were risks emerging in terms of economic activity.

Such statements get close attention by the investment markets because they contain any hint of what the Fed is thinking and what the Fed might do. The market then responds to those statements, inferring what it means and what those actions might do to interest rates and the stock markets.

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Thank you. Rest in Peace.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

August 26, 2021

Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, Navy

Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California, USMC

Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, USMC

Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, USMC

Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri, USMC

Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California, USMC

Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah, USMC

Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, USMC

Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, USMC

Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, USMC

Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, USMC

Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, USMC

Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee, Army

Over 100 Afghanistan citizens seeking to flee the country to save their lives.

Three more guilty pleas in college admissions scandal.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Although they grind slowly, the wheels of justice do grind.

Three more parents have negotiated a guilty plea deal for trying to bribe their child’s way into college. Sentencing hearings will be over the next several months.

Four more parents await trial.

8/24/21 – Wall Street Journal – College-Admissions Cheating Scandal Yields New Guilty Plea – Marci Palatell agreed to plead guilty to one felony count a month before trial. She admitted to one federal felony of what is called conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud. We have seen that charge a lot. I think that’s a catchall for cheating. The plea agreement outlines six weeks in prison, two years supervised release, $250K fine, and 500 hours of community service. Interesting note is that the same set of terms negotiated by Elisabeth Kimmel in the following paragraph. She confessed to conspiracy to pay $500,000 to get her son admitted into USC as a fake football player.

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