Rise of the $5 Pizza

Embracing deflation with 99-cent stores and discount movies

If you believe inflation is under control, then answer this: Where can you get a dozen eggs for a buck? 

For decades economists have warned about the dangers of deflation. The ongoing double-digit, multimarket decline in real estate prices should horrify us, we are told. Even our language has been edited to reflect this mentality; the phrase real estate recovery is a happy-sounding euphemism for a reinflation of housing prices. Yet everywhere you look, Americans are happy to do the deflation dance. 

Deep-discount stores, usually with the word dollar in their names, are enjoying a boom that dates back to the turn of the 21st century but has been invigorated by the continuing credit unwind. Also expanding during the recession/recovery have been discount and second-run movie houses, which offer audiences big-screen thrills at the Reagan-era price of $3 a ticket. And although Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate in July that “we would certainly want to react against any increase in deflation risk,” chain restaurants all over the country have drawn a 14-inch line in the sand in the form of the $5 pizza. 

This nationwide return to value has been missed by most media outlets. In a July cover story illustrated by a muscular Uncle Sam with pasties attached to his nipples, the British magazine The Economist posited a “Comeback Kid” American economy but used as its prime example Ethan Allen, an upscale furniture maker based in Connecticut. Now it’s true that in the first quarter of 2012 Ethan Allen saw 8 percent growth in net sales over 2011. And furniture is a perpetually overpriced industry that strongly encourages its customers to take on debt. (In many store windows you see prices listed in monthly installments.) Yet even here the real growth is, literally, in the cheap seats. Wisconsin’s Ashley Furniture Industries sells loveseats for about a third of what Ethan Allen charges and pulls in about six times as much money. If Ashley’s too rich for your blood, 15 percent of Americans shop in consignment stores and another in 18 percent favor thrift stores, according to America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior research firm.

This growth is largely due to Americans from higher income quintiles who are sinking to discount shopping. Dollar General Chairman Rick Dreiling reported in 2011 that half of his chain’s new customers come from “non-core, higher-income families,” with 22.4 percent of new Dollar General customers earning $70,000 or more.

“You see this flight to value that accelerated during the recession, which ended three years ago,” says Craig Johnson, president of the Connecticut-based consulting firm Customer Growth Partners. “But the growth in deep-discount stores has held up.” The North Carolina–based Family Dollar chain saw net sales increase 10 percent between 2011 and 2012. Tennessee’s Dollar General grew net sales 13 percent in the first quarter of 2012. 

In a January 1991 memo advocating a modest “singles and doubles” marketing strategy, Jeffrey Katzenberg, then chairman of the Walt Disney Company, warned that “when times get tough…people will still want to escape to the movies, but they’ll want it for the historic cost of a loaf of bread.” The $3 movie tickets sold by Danny Heilbrunn, owner of the Ohio Danbarry Dollar Saver movie theater chain, don’t quite fulfill that promise. (Thrifty shoppers will recognize a $3 loaf of bread as highway robbery.) But Danbarry does a brisk business selling cheap movie tickets in tough times. 

Heilbrunn brushes off my suggestion that stagnation has been good for discount theaters with the movie man’s mantra that pictures are not affected by the economy. But he opened another Danbarry house in 2009, at the supposed trough of the recession. Most major U.S. cities host thriving second-run houses. The 35-state Carmike chain greeted 2009 with a “Recession Special” of a 16-ounce beverage and 46-ounce popcorn for a dollar each. As of August, Carmike’s 2012 revenues (admissions plus concessions) were up 17.5 percent from the same period the year before.

But dollar stores and second-run houses merely slow the course of inflation. The $5 pizza—marketed by Little Caesars and countless smaller pizza chains—actually reverses it. Our do-nothing Department of Commerce does not maintain a historic database of pizza prices, but I can remember regularly spending $8 or $10 for a pie in the 1980s. The price of a pizza has fallen not just in inflation-adjusted terms (and by the way, why do you never hear the term deflation-adjusted?) but in nominal dollars. 

Tahir Majeed, co-founder of Minnesota-based $5 Pizza, opened his first takeout shop in 2008 and is currently opening his 13th. “With the recession everybody wants to run their business more carefully,” Majeed says. “So now we’re not selling expensive stuff.” 

Does he worry that inflation—which, whatever you may be told, has not been low throughout the long recession and in fact has robbed your dollar of 10 percent of its value since 2007—could make it impossible to deliver on his chain’s promise of a large pie for a Lincoln? “No,” Majeed says. “We can make another menu: $10 or $15. People who make money want to go for more expensive options.”

Majeed says he is not considering portion shrinkage, which asks shoppers to pay the same price for less. Others are not so shy. The industry standard half-gallon container of ice cream was disappeared in the middle of the last decade and replaced with a 1.75-quart (later downgraded to 1.5-quart) lookalike. The venerable 64-ounce orange juice container was quietly downgraded to 59 ounces in 2010. (For that matter, is 14 inches really a “large” pizza?) 

Yet award-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman insists that it’s deflation we must fear. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Republican vice presidential nominee, cited fear of a “deflationary spiral” to excuse his 2008 House vote for the bank-bailing Troubled Asset Relief Program. It is well that experts remind us deflation is terrible. Otherwise we might grow too fond of it.  

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  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Little Caesars? Does this mean Cavanaugh is a Tigers fan?

  • Lord Humungus||

    "Little Greasers" used to make the wettest, sloppiest pizza around. I haven't eaten any of their 'food' for a long time, so no comment on their current fare.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Used to be that you could get two pizzas for something like $7 from them.

    Their current fare isn't that bad if it's fresh, but it's not the kind you can wrap up and eat for breakfast the next day. The crust becomes as hard as cement within 12 hours.

  • ||

    From where do you think mortar comes? The building material that spent Little Caesar's bones provides is quite remarkable.

  • InlineSkate||

    As do your arteries.

  • Aresen||

    Those were pizzas?

    I thought they were drain tiles from sewage treatment plants.

  • ||

    I'm not sure how they used to be, but their pizzas are pretty good now.

  • Paleo-ConAvenger||

    This

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We need to create a pizza bubble?

  • Sudden||

    While we're on the subject of pizza, I'm curious Epi's (epicurious?) thoughts on the new Domino's pan pizza. It is their attempt at a psuedo-deep dish pie, while not calling it deep dish.

    Is this still considered an affront to all he holds holy?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I literally just had one of those for lunch. It was fine. I mean, it was pizza, somewhat deep dishy, what do you want? At least it wasn't square.

  • ||

    Square pizzas are evil. Everyone knows pizzas should be triskaidekagonal.

  • ||

    Sir Pizza! argument over!

  • ||

    Oh wait, the pizzas were not rectangular, but the "slices" were. Dammit! being too young to remember-7 years old doesn't help.

  • ||

    But my first exposure to Pac Man/Pac Woman/Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire is a bonus, right?

  • ||

    Yanno, that picture of the Little Caesar's mascot is exactly how I picture Episiarch.

    It's uncanny.

  • SugarFree||

    Needs about 900% more wop.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Think of the entire Italian football team as one person.

  • Sudden||

    So he walks around falling everywhere and appealing to the passerbys to furnish a yellow card in spite of never being touched?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Emotionally though, not physically.

  • ||

    The laurel leaves and receding hairline, not to mention the grease of the alleged pizza they serve, more than make up for the lack wop-posity.

  • SugarFree||

    But Epi's not some fancy Roman wop... he's Jersey wop. The woppiest of the wops. The nylon jogging suit type of wop.

  • ||

    I thought the laurel leaves + jogging suit + gaudy bling + a ridiculous moniker == shattering the wop continuum.

    I don't think the fabric of the continuum (no doubt nylon) can handle such wop-titude.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, no old Roman in him. More of the people who sat in the stands of the Circus Maximus eating ocelot spleens.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I have a pic of him and two of his buds right after he got a new fuckin' haircut.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Apparently, he took off the laurel leaves to go clubbing.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    MOAR TANNING SALON TIME!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I don't care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!"

  • 0x90||

    "I'm German-Irish."

  • Sudden||

    The toga provides Warty with easy access to th goods as well.

  • The Hammer||

    How does a toga provide any easier access to his ear hole than any other piece of clothing?

  • Ska||

    Well it's better than the balaclava and ball gag combo that he sports all winter.

  • ||

    the phrase real estate recovery is a happy-sounding euphemism for a reinflation of housing prices.

    No. It means increasing sales.

    If units were moving and home starts were up that would be a recovery.

  • R C Dean||

    No. It means increasing sales.

    Funny, I generally see it in connection with prices, not volume. Like here:

    http://www.upi.com/Business_Ne.....344981051/

  • ||

    After a Google search you are right.

    I guess I internalized home prices as being a bullshit indicator of nothing more then bubbles.

  • Rasilio||

    Deflation is terrible if you are a net debtor. It is also a pretty bad shock to corporate balance sheets for a little while because wages adjust slower than prices because workers can never be sure if price swings are permanent or temporary. However as long as the rate of deflation is not too extreme it can be a great boon to the economy.

    The one real downside to it is that with all of the debt sloshing around in the system any real measurable deflation could really be devastating triggering mass defaults as debtors now have to pay back the same number of nominal dollars but each of those dollars is now worth more and as wages adjust down with prices they will quickly loose whatever purchasing power as their existing debt servicing costs consume a larger portion of their budget.

  • robc||

    prices have nothing to due with inflation/deflation. They are, at most, a result.

  • robc||

    That was directed as much at Tim as at you.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There are two kids of inflation. Price inflation is the one that actually matters in the real world. Monetary inflation wouldn't matter if it didn't cause (sometimes delayed) price inflation.

  • robc||

    There is inflation and "price inflation". With the economic community, the word inflation, historically, meant what you are calling "monetary inflation". No need for the adjective for that one.

    Inflation matters not just because it sometimes causes prices to increase but because it decreases the value of money. And that happens instantly. Prices lag. They are sticky. Not as sticky as wages, but still sticky.

    And that makes sense, because M2 can have a feedback effect where a sudden jump in M2 can cause the velocity of money to slow down leading to a decrease in M2, offsetting some of that instantaneous inflation.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Inflation matters not just because it sometimes causes prices to increase but because it decreases the value of money.

    The value of money is totally determined by what it can buy. ie, prices.

  • Paul.||

    This is not true. The value of money can be determined by the amount of money circulating in society.

    IF say, everyone in society had an average of $10 in their pocket, the price of a hotdog and soda would be quite low. But if by fiat, everyone had an average of $1 million dollars in their pocket, the price of a hot dog and soda would become quite expensive.

    Prices will change based upon the relative wealth of purchasers. Prices are higher in richer societies.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yes, Paul. I don't see how this contradicts my statement. Currency is worth less in rich societies too, as evidenced by no one here wanting to work for $1/hr while a guy in Zimbabwe would probably kill to work for that wage.

  • Paul.||

    The value of money is totally determined by what it can buy. ie, prices.

    I was responding to the above specifically and exactly.

    The value of money is not *totally* determined by (you used 'IE') prices. Prices can be determined by the number of dollars in the economy, not only other way around.

    If you meant something else upstream, fine. But that statement, taken on its own is not true.

  • Calidissident||

    This is not true. Price inflation can be low or nonexistent, but if there's a lot of monetary inflation, then that means deflation is being prevented and there's an excess of money in the market, which means there will be negative consequences. The 1920's and 2000's are good examples of this

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Negative consequences, namely price inflation.

    I'm not denying that monetary inflation is a bad thing; just pointing out that its badness arises solely from the fact that it causes price inflation.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    DELAYED price inflation, I should specify.

  • Calidissident||

    No, it has other effects. Such as fueling financial bubbles, and affecting government policy (governments have a harder time spending beyond their means if there isn't constant expansion of the money supply). And by price inflation, I don't mean the CPI number, but the difference between the CPI (or whatever nominal inflation measure you want to use) and what the inflation/deflation rate would have been in absence of the monetary inflation. I don't know if you mean that as well, I'm just clarifying my position

  • CE||

    The biggest danger of deflation to governments, after having to pay back their huge debts in appreciating dollars, is that the citizens don't have to hold their money in banks where it is easily tracked and taxed. Instead they can buy any long lasting and easily hideable and sellable precious metal token, and sell them singly on the side when they need cash.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    In a deflationary environment holding on to precious metals would lose you money. You'd be better off holding dollars. High interest rates in such an environment would encourage people to put cash in banks also, not their mattresses.

  • robc||

    The real inflation rate.

  • ||

    yesterday someone quoted an economic study from 1961 that said it takes 3 years for inflation to hit after the monetary stock has been enlarged.

  • robc||

    The monetary stock IS inflation.

    Prices != inflation.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I can't help but wonder if you're going on another defining things different from everyone else in the world binge.

  • robc||

    I am arguing against changes in the language here, which isnt normally my thing, but NO, this is what inflation meant in the economic community for most of its history. The emphasis on price inflation if very, very recent. (Like last 50 years)

    Technical terms I prefer to remain static. Common language usage Im cool with drift.

  • ||

    I can't help but wonder if you're going on another defining things different from everyone else in the world binge.

    Dude i am having serious reservations about you intellect.

    yesterday you told me that deregulation would hurt the economy in the short term.

    Now this?

    IDK...maybe you are just fucking with us.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Explain your issues with these statements.

    Any sort of shock to the market is harmful in the short term. Large-scale deregulation would be such a shock.

    It would be helpful in the medium to long term of course. Unfortunately people live in the short term.

  • robc||

    Not all shocks are harmful, sometimes they help.

    Like when a company has "surprise" earnings and the whole industry goes up in value.

    Large scale deregulation would be that kind of shock, for most industries. For others, it would be as you say. On the net, a win.

    Also, Hail Eris!

  • ||

    Explain your issues with these statements.

    Prices can go up and down...that is not inflation.

    Inflation is a monetary phenomenon...that is what robc was talking about.

    It was pretty obvious. Then you randomly criticized him for it.

    Any sort of shock to the market is harmful in the short term. Large-scale deregulation would be such a shock.

    You are an insane person. deregulation is not a shock.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Hogwash. The recognition of the two types of inflation goes back a long time. It's not some new, artificial terminology.

    deregulation is not a shock.

    In a market that's adjusted to heavy regulation it is.

    If you lock a person up in a dark dungeon for a year and then bring them outside suddenly on a sunny day, they'll probably keel over.

  • ||

    In a market that's adjusted to heavy regulation it is.

    If you lock a person up in a dark dungeon for a year and then bring them outside suddenly on a sunny day, they'll probably keel over.

    SO we had a shock when Airlines were deregulated?

    Nope.

    We had a shock when labor markets were deregulated after ww2?

    Nope.

    You are making crap up based on zero evidence in the real world.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    We had a brief recession immediately after WW2 ended, actually.

    The economy was so screwed up in the late 70s that it's hard to untangle things, and airlines were only a tiny part of the market. I'm talking about massive deregulation across the board, of the sort we would favor.

    And I would favor it, but thinking that it would be an immediate success is polyannaish. You'd have to give the market time to adjust. It's sort of like the bends.

  • ||

    If you lock a person up in a dark dungeon for a year and then bring them outside suddenly on a sunny day, they'll probably keel over.

    Citation needed

  • The Derider||

    If inflation does not change prices, then who cares about it?

    If the monetary stock increases, but your purchasing power stays the same, who gives a shit?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If jumping off a building doesn't cause you to fall to your death, who cares about it?

  • The Derider||

    Yes, bungee jumping is not a big deal.

  • The Hammer||

    If you could read more than 3 words without your mouth getting tired, you'd realize that he said inflation leads to price increases, even if they are not the same thin semantically.

  • The Hammer||

    thing. fuck.

  • The Derider||

    He said this

    "The monetary stock IS inflation.

    Prices != inflation."

    He made no argument about monetary expansion leading to price increases (inflation).

  • ||

    Prices AREN'T inflation. But inflation leads to an increase in prices, as he notes above the comment you're responding to.

  • Calidissident||

    Monetary inflation can have pernicious effects without price inflation, by making inflation higher than it would be or by preventing deflation, and by fueling bubbles

  • ||

    yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.I know. Inflation is a monetary phenomena.

    I think the study says that prices will not go up until a given amount of time.

    The point is this would explain why, at least partially, the rate of increases in prices are not as high as one would expect given the the amount of monetary stock that we have.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There's also the fact that most of the monetary expansion is still sitting in the Federal Reserve. Money unspent and unlent has no effect on price inflation.

  • ||

    There's also the fact that most of the monetary expansion is still sitting in the Federal Reserve

    yes.

    Also we have had a loss of 40% of household wealth.

    One would think that would have the effect of lower prices....rather then the higher then normal inflation we have been seeing.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There's also energy and food prices going up for reasons unrelated to monetary inflation. Such as ethanol mandates and increased competition for oil.

  • robc||

    There's also energy and food prices going up for reasons unrelated to monetary inflation. Such as ethanol mandates and increased competition for oil.

    Very true, and those are also not inflationary effects. As I said upthread price != inflation, prices are changed by far too many variables beyond inflation.

    Productivity, demand changes, regulatory nonsense, etc, etc, all lead to price changes and none of them have a damn thing to do with inflation.

  • The Derider||

    Anything that leads to price increases could be a cause of inflation.

    You're defining the word in a way that's contrary to modern economic theory, both conservative and liberal.

  • ||

    Anything that leads to price increases could be a cause of inflation.

    This is similar to saying that any ape could be a human. While some apes are human, some aren't. Likewise, some price increases are because of inflation, and some aren't.

  • ||

    Oil inventories are up, demand is down yet prices are rising.

    Food inventories are up demand is flat (people still have to eat) yet prices are rising.

    Sorry Tulpa you are wrong.

  • The Derider||

    You're confusing "demand" with "quantity demanded at a certain price".

    The demand for oil is not down.

  • ||

    The demand for oil is not down.

    Wrong.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....UQ20120817

    If you want to get into an argument over the nomenclature of demand vs quantity demanded then take it up with reuters you disingenuous toad.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Oil inventories are up, demand is down yet prices are rising.

    Could other things, like taxes, contribute to rising fuel prices, even if oil inventories are up?

    Also oil is used for other purposes besides fuel. Plastics, hose, tubing, even diving suits. Perhaps if these things get a bigger share of oil, the price of gasoline goes up?

  • robc||

    There's also the fact that most of the monetary expansion is still sitting in the Federal Reserve. Money unspent and unlent has no effect on price inflation.

    True, which is why M0 has nearly quadrupled, but inflation (change in M2) has only been about 5-7% over the same time frame.

    If the FR released that money, inflation (price too) would go thru the roof. But they managed to jack up M0 while killing the velocity of money. Thus M2 has been growing slowly. However, the economy cant recover until the velocity of money heats back up, which will mean either hella inflation or the FR pulling M0 out of the system.

    This is exactly why I predicted a dodecadip recession. After time the economy starts to recover, they will pull the reins on inflation, dropping us back into doldrums. Maybe it wont technically be a recession each time, but it will be anemic growth. M0 has to go somewhere.

    Like I said in 2008, 2020 at the earliest. And honestly, each QE pushes that date off.

  • R C Dean||

    There's also the fact that most of the monetary expansion is still sitting in the Federal Reserve.

    Some of it is. This gets into the issue of what the wonks call "transmission channels".

    When the Fed buys, say, CMOs from banks, that money probably stays at the Fed as excess reserves, for awhile at least.

    When the Fed buys, say, Treasuries, that money goes to the government where it is spent.

    Excess reserves are way up, true, which is why QE isn't helping the economy. However, the balance sheet has grown by more than the excess reserves.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    When the Fed buys, say, Treasuries, that money goes to the government where it is spent.

    OK, but a large portion of that government spending is paying off the last wave of Treasury buyers (including the Fed and others who just use it to buy more Treasuries). A goddamned perpetual motion machine.

  • The Derider||

    Right, from 1961.

  • ||

    Someone posted it. I mentioned it in case someone remembered seeing it as well so they could tell me what it was.

    it was called "premier on inflation" or something

    Anyway joe we all know what you think about economic studies past and present.

    "Interesting but every study is only one study and therefor it should be ignored."

  • The Derider||

    Joe, If you have a peer-reviewed economic journal article published in the last 25 years that suggests price inflation lags for a set time behind monetary expansion, I'll read it.

    Some 50 year old book is not the same thing.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Hey joe! Tell us about the current inflation problem Hugo Chavez is having in Venezuela. Thanks!

  • ||

    I want my deep dish pizza for $5.

  • SugarFree||

    There is far, far worse garbage pizza than Little Ceaser's. Papa John's, for example. Hey, do you like your pizza half-cooked and made with a sauce so loaded with corn syrup that your pancreas flinches?

  • Sudden||

    Those of us who are not pancreatically challenged find no issue with it.

    Your weak and easily eradicated genome simply cannot survive several more generations. You will have no offspring that live on into the world of Brawndo and President Comanche.

  • Sudden||

    President ComancheCamacho.

  • SugarFree||

    You may put whatever garbage you wish in your body. My body is a temple. A falling down temple covered in vines and looted centuries ago.

  • BakedPenguin||

    A temple to Pervos, the god of deviant sexuality.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I think I just found my next religion (again).

  • SugarFree||

    I am a deviant religion generator.

  • $park¥||

    Maybe the declarations about Zeus and unicorns being non-existent, and the fact that George Washington is dead could somehow be worked into this new religion.

  • SugarFree||

    I find your syncretism intriguing.

  • $park¥||

    Any good areligious cult should be based on apodiectic statements. The more the merrier.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    He's right about Papa John's, though--at least Little Caesar's doesn't taste like cardboard right out of the box.

    You know who's making decent pizza now, in contrast to their well-deserved reputation for shittiness? Domino's.

  • ||

    He's right about Papa John's, though

    Nope. Your opinion has been vetoed. You need at least a 2/3 majority to get it reinstated.

  • Rasilio||

    I don't know, if I had to buy national chain pizza Papa Johns was by far my favorite. However given that I now live in Eastern Mass I have no need to ever consider such a thing as there are about a dozen mom and pop places within 5 miles of my house that are better than almost any chain you care to mention.

  • SugarFree||

    I came from a place that had very little chain pizza. It was a shock when I went to college. Ew.

    I'll eat almost any style of pizza, but Papa John's just grosses me out. We have a place here that makes an identical pizza, but uses a not-sweet sauce and actually finishes cooking the damn things and I'm fine with eating it.

  • ||

    Hm. I always though Pizza Hut had a sweeter sauce. I remember Papa John's as being somewhat tangy.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    So it's OK to criticize Papa Johns but not OK to criticize gay sex?

  • ||

    Whoa, holy false equivalency Tulpy-poo! One is clearly not the other, or even in the same ballpark.

    How exactly is Papa John's pizza anything like gay sex, aside from possibly the grease, garlic butter, and the pepperoncini?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    They're both choices people make, often when drunk.

    We had a discussion on this in your absence.

  • ||

    They're both choices people make,

    Except no one here hates people who like Papa Johns, or any other pizza chain. It would be more like saying "I don't like gay sex, I prefer straight sex. Man-on-man action grosses me out." That's a perfectly valid criticism. Seriously though, we shouldn't have to walk you through stuff like this as if you're 4 years old. Grow up.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Wuss. You should tell your pancreas to stand there and take it like a man.

  • SugarFree||

    My pancreas sickens me.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Try threatening its family. Maybe it will cooperate then!

  • SugarFree||

    I tried holding my liver a knifepoint, but that cold-hearted bastard just laughed.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You've got to stop coming across so weak. He knew you were bluffing.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Give yourself kidney stones just to show him you mean business. Plus he can't say "You don't have the stones to do it."

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Do what he say! DO WHAT HE SAY!!!

  • SugarFree||

    Forget it, Auric. It's Pancreastown.

  • $park¥||

    Go to a strict spinach, peanut butter, and raisin diet. You should be able to calcify your kidneys pretty quick.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    That sounds pretty good. You'll be able to get your tongue as an ally.

  • $park¥||

    One day I ought to regale you folks with the grand tale of the time I had to self-extract a half inch long stone that got stuck using a bent paper clip.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    One day I ought to regale you folks with the grand tale of the time I had to self-extract a half inch long stone that got stuck using a bent paper clip.

    Where's Barfman when you need him?

  • R C Dean||

    I'd love to know how the stone got a bent paper clip.

  • ||

    One day I ought to regale you folks with the grand tale of the time I had to self-extract a half inch long stone that got stuck using a bent paper clip.

    Your ambiguous grammar aside, dearest Sparky, I would be curious as to how you dislodged, what I can only assume would be, a kidney stone from your urethra

  • $park¥||

    I was lucky enough to be in possession of some of those rubber-wrapped paper clips. I unbent one mostly back into a straight piece except for a small hook at the end. I was able to maneuver the wire in far enough that the hook caught the far end and then pull it out with one good, swift tug.

    The stone was roughly shaped like a .22 bullet, unfortunately it had gotten turned around so the rounded end was in and the flat end out so it kept diffusing the pressure whenever I took a piss. I drank an entire 32 oz bottle of pure lemon juice over the course of two days in a effort to dissolve the stone enough that it would pass, but no luck. After a week of having it stuck in there, I got fed up and took matters into my own hands.

  • Appalachian Australian||

    Isn't calcium buildup in the kidneys mostly due to excessive protein metabolism? Something about the need for calcium in protein metabolism resulting in too much loose calcium floating around the bloodstream.

  • Enough About Palin||

    I tried holding my liver a knifepoint, but that cold-hearted bastard just laughed Bidened.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Have to agree with SugarFree. For chain pizza, LC's current product is okay, especially since it's cheaper than everyone else's.

  • SugarFree||

    I once, quite drunkenly, tried to expound on this theory while having a late night Little Ceaser's pizza. My elegant argument came out something like "It's best garbage pizzas... it's good Eatin' Pizza." My wife mocked me until I passed out playing Pitfall.

    We've called cheap but acceptable pizza "Eatin' Pizza" ever since.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Crazy Bread is a national treasure.

  • SugarFree||

    On that subject... didn't Crazy Bread used to be much, much better? When I first had it, there a crunchy topping that lent the product it's name (the surface of the topping was "crazed" or cracked from the heat of cooking.)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You have to ruin everything, don't you? Yeah, I think you're right.

  • SugarFree||

    It's still good, if a bit doughy. But that earlier iteration was amazing. I think they painted that mixture (probably margarine, green can Parmesan and dried Italian herbs) on the crusts of the pizza for a few years as well.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The crunch enhancer? Yeah it was a non-nutritive bread varnish. It was semi-permiable. It wasn't osmotic. What it did was it coated and sealed the bread...

  • SugarFree||

    "THE SHITTER'S FULL!"

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "non-nutritive bread varnish"

    Hmmm, I'll have to look for that at the store, next time I am shopping

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Speaking of crap pizza
    What else can you stuff in a pizza crust? Hot dogs, says Pizza Hut

  • ||

    Little kids might like it. It's certainly a bit innovative, though I'd prefer they use something more high-end, like Italian sausage or bratwursts.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "The combination of the ballpark classic and delivered delight made headlines in the United Kingdom when it was introduced there,..."

    Really, Pizza Slut? Getting innovations on pizza from the Brits, you have totally hit rock bottom now.

  • ||

    Really, Sugarfree? Papa John's is the only place I can find a good barbeque chicken pizza (with lots of onion and bacon, yum!). Don't diss them like that, just because you have some wonky pancreas.

  • 0073735963||

    "made with a sauce so loaded with corn syrup"

    It's sugar. There's no corn syrup at all in their sauce.

    And seriously LC over PJ's?

    You're a fucking retard.

  • DaveSs||

    If it sells for $5 and is referred to as a pizza, that's false advertising

    Can't get a proper pizza at a restaurant for under $15

    Signed
    A Pizzasnob

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I am a huge beer snob, but you wouldn't hear me saying something stupid like "you can't get a proper beer at a restaurant for under $5." Someone charging more isn't what makes it better.

  • DaveSs||

    Its a question of ingredients.

    An honest to goodness pizza simply cannot be made with frozen cardboard dough and premixed jarred sauce.

  • Bill E||

    People choosing less expensive alternatives is NOT deflation. Sellers being force to offer high-value items in order to survive is not deflation. Deflation is when your money is worth more than previously valued. Falling prices would be a consequence, not a cause. When we can purchase essentially unaltered items at lower prices, and supply and demand is not the cause, then you can call THAT deflation. When gold, oil, and food are cheaper------again, not attributable to supply and demand fluctuations, THEN we will have deflation. I'm not holding my breath. TC knows this, or should know it.

  • cavalier973||

    The Federal Reserve steals people's pay increases (in the form of increased purchasing power) that they should be seeing during times of increased productivity. Bunch of thieving snotnoggins.

  • The Derider||

    "Does he worry that inflation—which, whatever you may be told, has not been low throughout the long recession and in fact has robbed your dollar of 10 percent of its value since 2007"

    2% inflation IS low. Repeating your non-economic assertions do not make them true.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    2% inflation IS low.
    That's like saying a five-win season for the Browns would be tremendous. Sure, relatively speaking...

  • The Derider||

    The average historical inflation rate is around 3%. 2% inflation is low, compared to inflation rates that have existed in the real world, as opposed to those that exist only in Tim Cavanaugh's head.

  • Fluffy||

    What inflation rate would exist without deliberate intervention to create inflation?

    If we were due a general price decrease of 20%, a 2% inflation rate is actually really, really high.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    See, Fluffy gets it. Must be a Browns fan.

  • The Derider||

    No, 2% inflation would still be a low rate of inflation.

    And being "due" a general price decrease of 20% also means a 20% reduction in pay, because salaries are just the price of labor.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    But also would, of course, make savers relatively richer. And who would possibly want to reward saving?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I mean, the Browns winning five would probably mean they took a couple that year from the Bengals. Which really sucks -- and unlike savers, Browns fans have no redeeming inherent moral value that deserves to be rewarded, so let's just forget the whole thing.

  • R C Dean||

    This is pretty much it, in a nutshell.

    Purposely inflationary policies reward debtors, and penalize savers.

    Capital stock is built over the long term via saving, not borrowing.

    We have a policy of penalizing those who create capital.

    Perhaps we could get a peer reviewed study published in a journal somewhere about whether you get more, or less, of what you penalize.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Purposely inflationary policies reward debtors, and penalize savers.


    And of course, we all know who the biggest debtor of all is, don't we?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "And of course, we all know who the biggest debtor of all is, don't we?"

    Lindsay Lohan's intoxicant tab?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    You're getting warmer...

  • R C Dean||

    This squabbling over rich v poor and overleveraged v prudent is all very entertaining, but my point was that inflation penalizes capital formation, because I am less interested in class warfare than a prosperous economy, and it sure looks to me like inflation negatively impacts the foundation of a prosperous economy.

  • The Derider||

    To nitpick, it wouldn't help "savers", but people that already had significant savings.

    In the same way, it would heavily punish debtors.

    Thus, deflation rewards the rich and punishes the poor.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    To nitpick, it wouldn't help "savers", but people that already had significant savings...

    Thus, deflation rewards the rich

    I didn't realize I was "the rich" when I was working retail fulltime while going to school.

  • The Derider||

    Deflation makes it harder to pay debts. It benefits people who already have significant savings. Those people are accurately defined as "rich".

  • Fluffy||

    Deflation makes it harder to pay debts. It benefits people who already have significant savings. Those people are accurately defined as "rich".

    Overwhelmingly, "the rich" don't have huge piles of cash that they roll around on like Scrooge McDuck.

    They own fixed assets and securities that are in most cases leveraged. Their positive net worth is a function of the nominal price of their various assets over the amount of their debt.

    Inflation favors the rich more than anybody else. They're the ones who require ever-increasing asset prices for their finances to work.

    Deflation destroys the overleveraged. And that's why the rich hate it. We're a very, very long way removed from the Cross of Gold days, William Jennings Bryan.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    See, Fluffy continues to post cogent, carefully considered, reasonable and well-written responses to our trolls.
    Which is why I pity him so, so much.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Somebody has to roll the boulder up the hill.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Again, I was working full time while going to school, and I grew up on a farm. I had savings. I wasn't rich.

  • Rasilio||

    Realistically a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars either way is rather irrelivant when discussing the impact of inflation or deflation on a persons budget.

    The question is were you walking around with at least a years median salary in savings or debt, anything less than that and the net impact is relatively negligable.

  • ||

    Thus, deflation rewards the rich and punishes the poor.

    Then how come the middle class in this country was built during a deflationary period?

    Also how come the digital divide never manifested itself while computers keep getting faster and cheaper?

    The empirical evidence you are ignoring contradicts your assertions.

  • The Derider||

    When do you think the middle class was "built" in the US?

    What does the digital divide have to do with anything?

    The empirical examples you're providing are red herrings.

  • ||

    When do you think the middle class was "built" in the US?

    1776 to about 1915.

    Anyway 1776 is a joke. Obviously the middle class was being built long before the US ever existed.

  • Fluffy||

    That's why we have bankruptcy.

    What people don't realize is that in an economic situation where vast numbers of people possess marketable skills, but suffer from high debt loads and difficulty affording or financing big-ticket items like real estate and medical care, a general capitulation and liquidation followed by deflation HELPS those people.

    That's one reason the middle class profited after the pre-Keynesian panics. Wages didn't fall as far as prices, and when expansion returned middle class wages would grow faster than prices due to skilled labor scarcity. Their restored wages would buy much more than they could before, and assets that were formerly out of their reach were brought within their reach. All they "lost" was their prior precarious, barely-positive (and often leveraged) net worth, which was easily replaced.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Thus, deflation rewards the rich and punishes the poor.

    Oh, bullshit. Deflation rewards those who are fiscally prudent and punishes people who are overleveraged. "Rich" and "poor" don't have anything to do with it.

    If inflation was so wonderful, why does it require an average of $25K a year in debt to get a bachelor's degree? Who do you think is getting hurt by inflation there--the rich, who can afford to cover the difference, or the poor, who have to take out $25K in debt, on average, just to get a BA?

    The cost of having a baby in the hospital these days is about $10K; in the mid-1950s, it was about $500, inflation-adjusted. Who's getting hurt most by this, the rich or the poor?

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah Derider, deflation helps the rich, which is why our politicians do everything to avoid it. The Federal Reserve is a benevolent institution working for the benefit of the poor. You can't possibly believe this?

  • SugarFree||

    You can't possibly believe this?

    How dare you question what he believes! Why he believes concepts four or five times stupider than this, I'll have you know!

  • Calidissident||

    By price inflation standards, 2% by itself is low. But you're missing the point. If we would have had 10% deflation in the absence of the monetary inflation, then the real inflation rate is 12%. It's the same effect as if there was 12% inflation in a year where there would have been no change in the value of the money in the absence of inflationary measures

  • hotsy totsy||

    But the price of labor isn't just salaries. Taxes, insurance, regulations, etc.

  • Rasilio||

    With no deliberate intervention to create inflation the natural tendency of money would be to deflate in value.

    As the monetary stock is held constant but societies net productivity/wealth grows the relative value of each unit of money compared to the goods/services it could be traded for would decrease.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm pretty sure you got that backwards, Rasilio.

    If we have 100 economic units and 100 monetary units, then 1 monunit will buy 1 econunit.

    If we have 200 econunits, and 100 monunit, then each monunit will buy 2 econunits. To me, that sounds like the relative value of money to goods/services it can be traded for is increasing.

    Its under inflation that each dollar buys you less.

  • ||

    The average historical inflation rate is around 3%

    The average historical inflation rate is not measured the same way it is today.

    If you used the same method to measure inflation today as we did in the 70s/80s we would see inflation rates similar to the late 70s/early 80s

  • The Derider||

    Cite needed.

  • ||

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    joe'z law strikes again.

    You made a subjective assertion and then immediately condemned Tim's assertion.

  • The Derider||

    It's not subjective. 2% inflation is well below the historical inflation rate.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And five wins is well above the Browns' historical rate.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Racial discrimination is also way below historic levels, so I guess that's not a problem either.

  • The Derider||

    It's certainly less of a problem than it used to be.

  • Enough About Palin||

    That's not what your friends at ACORN tell us. Or Joe "He'll put y'all back in chains" Biden for that matter.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yeah, as others are pointing out, lowering prices doesn't necessarily signal deflation if the quality of the product is decreasing.

  • robc||

    Or if productivity is increasing.

    Another reason why measuring it by price instead of monetarily is fucking stupid.

    Computer prices arent a result of deflation. But if you include it in your set of goodies, it causes it to look that way.

  • The Derider||

    If the monetary stock is fixed, and the economy expands, deflation occurs.

    Measuring only the monetary element is fucking stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    My two year old who can't read has better reading comprehension skills than you.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You precognscient bastard!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Computer prices arent a result of deflation.

    Of course they are. The value of an individual computer has decreased.

    Look at how computers were treated in the 1970s vs. how they're treated today. You broke your computer in 1970, you were waiting forever to get it replaced. Now every company has a gazillion backup units ready to be deployed.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Or if the production costs for that product have decreased.

  • Drake||

    So prices for things I want and need like cars, decent food, and fuel are inflating rapidly. Meanwhile the price of shit - Little Caesar's and dollar store crap is holding steady.

    What was the point of this article?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Customer digestive systems are evolving to accomodate the new $5 pizza.

  • Drake||

    Are our septic systems keeping pace?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I could have sworn I saw a woman with a rumen riding a cart in Walmart.

  • ||

    It got Joe all hot and bothered. So it probably hit home.

  • The Derider||

    Tim, Inflation and Deflation are macroeconomic concepts.

    Are you now a "Macrotard" too?

  • ||

    Tim, Inflation and Deflation are macroeconomic concepts.

    No. They are monetary concepts.

  • The Derider||

    Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, and price indices to understand how the whole economy functions. Macroeconomists develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, savings, investment, international trade and international finance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroeconomics

    The more you know!

  • ||

    to understand how the whole economy functions

    Inflation is not the whole economy.

    You lose. Game over.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: The Derider,

    Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, and price indices to understand how the whole economy functions.

    Which explains why macroeconomists do not understand basic economics.

    It would be like saying a person looks at population density to understand human relationships. You end up missing the point very quickly.

  • OldMexican||

    And I am really being facetious. That definition from Wikipedia is damned misleading.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: The Derider,

    Tim, Inflation and Deflation are macroeconomic concepts.


    Thus spake the economics ignoramus.

    Inflation and deflation are economic concepts. They're clearly defined economic phenomena, produced by a rapid expansion (or rapid contraction) of the money supply.

    This has been explained to you many times before, Joe. The issue is not economics but simple lack of comprehension - from your part.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Where can you get a dozen eggs for a buck?

    I went from working in a grocery store in rural Vermont during HS to shopping in grocery stores in cities starting senior year in college. I always assumed it was just that eggs were more expensive in the city. Maybe it's inflation.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    And who would possibly want to reward saving?

    Not even the Bushpig Christfags.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Savers are evil monsters who are hoarding their wealth from the top men in the government who would be creating jobs and giving sick grandmas health care if they had it.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Well, I, for one, am borrowing every dollar I can find at low fixed rates. Inflation? Bring on that bitch! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    See, that's cause you're a noble poor person. Just ask Derider.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    True, dat. Sniff.

  • Tim||

    Ya ever take a dump so big it plugged the toilet?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Because of Little Ceasar's Pizza?

  • sarcasmic||

    I've gotten the shits from Little Caesar's Pizza so bad I plugged the john with toilet paper.

    Does that count?

  • Tim||

    Yes.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Macroeconomists develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, savings, investment, international trade and international finance.

    Of course they do.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And my seven-year-old son build models that, in his own mind, fly through outer space.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: The Derider,

    Anything that leads to price increases could be a cause of inflation.

    No, it is not. You're a fool, Joe.

  • CE||

    Layaway plans are popular once again, another Depression era relic. Not just because people are poorer than dirt once again, and have tapped out their home equity lines of credit, their 401(k) loans, their credit cards and their auto-title loans, but because interest rates on savings accounts are close to zero, while credit cards are still in the low double digits.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Manufacturing and information costs fall everywhere the government doesn't control the action, and increases where they do - particularly in education, health care, and law, which should be getting exponentially cheaper, but instead are getting more expensive every year, and threatening to bankrupt everyone involved.

  • Homer||

    Great point. Don't forget energy.

  • SIV||

    Awwww! I missed joe saying how important it is to punish the working poor. He must be studying his Dr. K again.

  • ||

    No no you see when the poor have to buy goods at lower prices with their money that is more valuable that is bad for the middle class...the same middle class that has to buy goods and lower prices with their money that is more valuable.

    That is why Joe is right. Goods need to get more expensive so the middle class can't afford them. That is how you protect them.

  • ||

    By the way yesterday I listened to an NPR guy say that one day they will invent a gadget that can do everything and because it can do everything there will be no jobs and because no one can get a job no one could afford the gadget.

    I think Joe's entire economic understanding comes from this economic theory.

  • Jerry on the road||

    We will stop breathing because the air is free.

  • Paleo-ConAvenger||

    I'll be the lone one to be defensive on Little Caesars behalf. Its a quick, $5 meal for two, and sure the hell beats Pizza Hut. I actually think its pretty good. However, here in Come-blowAndTax-us, Ohio, we have a chain called Donatos that is extremely good.

    Any Ohio fanboy like sloopy would agree. Dominoes has made a great comeback as well, IMO.

  • lakawak||

    OK...I know you write for reason.com, and as such, no one takes you seriously as a real journalist, or even in any way intelligent...but do you really not see the difference between deflation and a marketing ploy by a struggling pizza chain that worked well and created plenty of copycats?

  • YinxDoo||

    Not at Papa Johns, that idiot wants $13 so he can live large in his 70k square foot mansion all while taking a dump on his employees!

    www.UA-Anon.tk

  • Homer||

    Your point on deflation is good. But the "deflationary spiral" Mr Ryan refers to is one of moral hazard caused by principle forgiveness. And he's right.

  • Voluntaryist Grunger||

    Good article

  • Thomas O.||

    Ethan Allen, Ashley Furniture... but no mention of Ikea? They're the cheap furniture champs, and fairly trendy to boot. (Sure, it's mostly particle board and weird brand names, but still...)

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Belated - where can I get a dozen eggs for $1? At my local grocery store. Yes, they're medium rather than large - but my breakfast plate and recipes haven't noticed a difference.

    It's all I buy now :) They also have the cheapest milk prices - even cheaper than WalMart.

    Still....food's definitely more expensive, or you get a smaller amount for the same price. Sucks.

    I blame Bush.

  • ||

    The eggs line confused me, too. I can fairly regularly find a local grocery store with large eggs on sale for a buck a dozen.

  • شات عراقنا||

    thanks

  • cinsel chat||

    good thanks sohbet
    cinsel sohbet

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