Saturday, November 15, 2008

Going up?

The Saipan Tribune headline Consumer prices rise in Q3 is a bit misleading. Prices are up from a year ago, but down from the previous quarter.

The new data isn't on the Department of Commerce website yet*. I checked last week, and again today.

"All items" were indexed at 120.9 for the second quarter and 120.2 in the latest report released to the Tribune. This is noted in the story's fourth paragraph: "In a quarter-to-quarter comparison, however, only the prices of food, education and communication, and other goods and services showed increases, with most categories posting declines across the board."

That's more interesting to me; a quarter-to-quarter comparison gives me a better idea of what's happening in our economy. The consumer price index is an imperfect tool anyway, but it's the best we've got. I know it's being improved constantly-- the consultants seem to share a love of after-work libations so I usually meet them.

Still, I wish I had a key of some sort to see exactly what's included in the various categories. And, idly, I wonder if they could do the same by island instead of just the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

I hope the report gets posted by CSD next week.

(For some reason the saying "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." popped into my head. From Oscar Wilde, I think. I checked. At least it's in Picture of Dorian Gray. Delightful book, and that's not a word I use. Somehow, I'd never read it. He throws out more 'I wish I'd said that' lines than any author I can think of. I got stuck and I'm going back to the beginning as soon as this is posted.)

* No link to the CPI reports, but just "jump to" the Central Statistics Division link on Commerce's website and click on Consumer Price Index on their menu.

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