Inflation IN-Inflation

I have long lamented the issue of Inflation EX-Inflation — the official reporting of inflation minus everything that has been going up in price.

Dan Gross of Slate/Newsweek, is the author of the book Pop!: Why Bubbles Are Great For The Economy. Blogging by proxy (via me), Dan points us to the exact opposite phenomena, Inflation In-Inflation. (1st  pun)

This refers to this morning’s WSJ article, As Demand Balloons, Helium Is in Short Supply (2nd pun) discussing the rising price (3rd pun) of Helium.

There is more than a little irony that we have robust inflation in Helium, the element that inflates balloons/bubbles (4th pun):

"Helium is found in varying concentrations in the
world’s natural-gas deposits, and is separated out in a special
refining process. As with oil and natural gas, the easiest-to-get
helium supplies have been tapped and are declining. Meanwhile,
scientific research has rapidly multiplied the uses of helium in the
past 50 years. It is needed to make computer microchips, flat-panel
displays, fiber optics and to operate magnetic resonance imaging, or
MRI, scans and welding machines.

The technology explosion is sucking up helium supplies (5th pun)
at dizzying rates (6th pun)
. U.S. helium demand is up more than 80% in the past
two decades, and is growing at more than 20% annually in developing
regions such as Asia.

"We’ve not seen the supply and demand at this
imbalance in the past. We’re running on the edge of the supply-demand
curve," says Jane Hoffman, global helium director for Praxair Inc." . . . As supplies have tightened, prices have surged in recent
months. For one New York laboratory, prices have increased to $8 a
liquid liter, from close to $4 at the end of the summer.

There are so many great puns in there — and as you can see,  more than a few bad ones — that I wont impose the awful ones I keep coming up with on you.

But you shouldn’t feel such restraint — that’s what the comments are for! Go at it!


As Demand Balloons, Helium Is in Short Supply
WSJ December 5, 2007; Page B1

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Dan Gross commented on Dec 5

    something tells me that the price of hot air–that other great inflator–hasn’t been rising. the supply of it is infinite.

  2. SINGER commented on Dec 5

    (in a high pitched voice)that sucks!!!

  3. KP commented on Dec 5

    I am gonna start selling futures on air. They’re not making any more of it you know. Forget Idiocracy…we’re really heading for Spaceballs reality.

  4. michael schumacher commented on Dec 5

    and here’s the repo. that will allow the market to go ballistic on Tuesday.

    Notice that the second operation is done for 7 days….

    Total of $18 Billion pushed to the market today but over-subbed to the tune of $85.2 billion.

    It’s almost as if the Fed is just giving the green light to ignite.


  5. Camille commented on Dec 5

    Hopefully someday MRI’s won’t require liquid helium for their superconductors…maybe just liquid nitrogen will be enough. And clowns will just have to entertain us with hydrogen-filled balloons in the future. The thrill of a possible clown Hindenberg will make it that much more exciting.

  6. Joe Klein’s conscience commented on Dec 5

    If the markets stay up 200 or more points today, how can Helicopter Ben justify lowering rates? For all the bad news we keep hearing about the mortgage crisis, the market really hasn’t gone in the tank. If things are so bad, why isn’t the market in the tank? BR ought to hold a contest to see who can guess how much Helicopter Ben will lower rates by next week.

  7. cm commented on Dec 5

    An exorbitantly rising price of a particular heavily sought and limited commodity is only that, and could as well indicate just a shift in relative prices, like from coaches and buggy whips to car accessories back then.

    To indicate inflation, we need price hikes in broader product/service categories. But, we got that plenty. At least those of us who engage in the things that every commoner must do — eat, commute, go to the doctor, get a roof over one’s head, etc.

  8. Innocent Bystander commented on Dec 5

    I think Bernake should inhale helium when he makes his speeches and announcements.

  9. Rob Dawg commented on Dec 5

    The markets are buoyant and I’m feeling lightheaded. Up up and away. Beautiful.

  10. DavidB commented on Dec 5

    It’s good of you to lighten things up a bit Barry.

    I’d hate to burst your balloon but I’m sure that the hedonic substitution market for helium will start expanding at any time

    As a matter of fact this whole helium inflation problem is probably blown all out of proportion. I am quite sure the whole problem is that helium isn’t liquid enough. Have you checked the floats of some of these helium suppliers. They have much lighter volume than the oxygen suppliers. And if you add the volume of the hydrogen, oxygen and hydrogen market then it’s all wet and a complete wash

    Although the demand markets for helium has really been a circus of late I’m sure prices will come back down to earth soon

  11. Eric Davis commented on Dec 5

    what’s going on with MBIA?

  12. JL commented on Dec 5

    “global helium director”

    I think I just found my dream job title. Too bad job content isn’t that solid.

  13. K commented on Dec 5

    I think that the ballooning inflation won’t be foiled because of the in-elasticity of the demand curve, and thus the bubble will continue to inflate until some prick tries to squeeze the market, causing it to pop.

  14. michael schumacher commented on Dec 5

    Eric D.

    From (so take it as such)

    The weakness is attributed to news that Moody’s now sees a capital shortfall at MBIA (MBI 31.53, -1.13) “somewhat likely.”

    Of course it comes out at the extreme HOD….


  15. muckdog commented on Dec 5

    Well, the first thing we need is a government tax on helium birthday balloons, to discourage people from buying birthday balloons.

    Then the government needs to pass a law criminalizing breathing in helium to make your voice sound funny. This is a total disrespect for the environment.

    Al Gore needs to make An Inconvenient Truth II about helium to rake in his second nobel prize. And of course, while it will be illegal for citizens to breathe in helium, Gore will narrate the whole film while breathing in helium. And later, conservatives will blog against Gore for his own home-use of helium.

    Then we need to drill for more helium, so Congress needs to open up ANWR.

  16. Eric Davis commented on Dec 5

    Mr. Schumacher,

    Thank you Sir. 2 weeks ago they were joking about them losing their AAA…

    Of course 6 months ago, they were laughing about the idea that home prices would go down.

  17. wunsacon commented on Dec 5

    Muckdog, Al Gore made a movie on a very serious issue. With your joke, you seem to be suggesting otherwise…or that a helium shortage is nearly as important. Is that correct?

  18. muckdog commented on Dec 5

    Al Gore made a movie on a very serious issue.

    He did?

  19. Winston Munn commented on Dec 5

    To hell with the helium – what we need is a new balloon.

  20. Innocent Bystander commented on Dec 5

    Al Gore keeps one half of the national helium reserves is his pants.

  21. wunsacon commented on Dec 5

    Yes, Muckdog, he did.

  22. qwerty commented on Dec 6

    Several universities (I know MIT and Cornell) re-condense helium after use; this technology is surprisingly efficient at recapturing helium and will presumably become more prevalent as prices increase.

  23. BigDog commented on Dec 6

    Q: How high can a dead cat bounce that has inhaled helium?……….A: About 1000 Dow pts.

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