Double to fill the tank and different gondolas: how prices rise in the United States live: “It’s worrying”

The terrible figures of inflation in the United States they are just a sample of the difficult days ahead in the country and around the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index for June was 9.1%which far exceeded the forecast of 8.8%, and registered the highest level since 1981. The impact on residents’ pockets has been almost constant since mid-2020, when it marked 0.6%, which increased gradually , but what in January of this year it began to rise by leaps and bounds until it became the fearsome number that today borders on two digits.

Americans face costs of more expensive food, fuel and housingand some are seeking answers about what causes the price spike, how long it might last, and what can be done to fix it. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is juggling not to raise interest rates. Just last month it announced the largest increase of three-quarters of a percentage point from a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, and experts warn that this could be repeated in July.

To alleviate inflation, some consumers changed their consumption habits and migrated to cheaper brands (Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

In the meantime, consumers have to deal with day-to-day life and some of them have already changed their consumption behaviour. It is the case of Charles Cabreraa Venezuelan who migrated to the country just over three years ago. “In general, everything is more expensive, but what rose exponentially was fuel and food”expressed in dialogue with LA NACION. Based in Houston, Texas, he says that recently he deprived himself of going out to restaurants and even stopped buying fast food.

Cabrera, who works as a health and life insurance agent and is also a driver for Uber, Lyft and other platforms, says that when he goes to the supermarket at the end of the day, he usually finds certain shelves empty. He, in turn, expresses that there are options for all types of pockets. In this sense, while those with higher purchasing power shop at Whole Foods Market, the middle class tends to shop at Walmart and HEB. This last chain has a strong presence in the southern state.

However, the price of fuel is one of the items that most impresses him. In less than a year, Carlos went from paying the gallon of gasoline from 2.21 dollars to 4.80. With a national average of $5, this number has become unpleasantly common across the country.

In the case of Marie-Monique KollerAn Argentine born in the United States and living in the country for more than two decades, if she has to quickly think about increasing a product, milk appears in her mind. You once paid $1.30 for a container and now you need $4.90 to buy the same amount at Walmart.

“Food is the most expensive at this time,” Koller told LA NACION. Also, he adds that “It has not been about sudden increases as in Argentina, but about a few cents”but what yes they are noticeable at the time of putting together the weekly budget. Likewise, he comments that in his house organic and celiac foods are consumed and that, although things are more expensive, he has not had to change his consumption habits. He usually goes to the supermarket weekly, alternates between Publix, Aldi, or Trader Joe’s and spend about $300.

Motorists line up to fill their cars with gas at a Shell gas station, Friday, June 17, 2022, in Miami (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Motorists line up to fill their cars with gas at a Shell gas station, Friday, June 17, 2022, in Miami (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

In that sense, the variation in the price of fuel also worries her. “That gasoline rise is worrying”he says, adding that so far this year, he went from filling his car’s tank with $18 a week, but then almost doubled to $33. After at the end of last month President Joe Biden suspended the federal gas tax for 90 days.Marie Monique requires 27 dollars to load the car and move around Coral Springs, the Florida city where she lives.

For both Koller and Cabrera comparing the inflation currently experienced in the United States with that of their countries of origin is impossible. In the case of Marie Monique, her family migrated from Argentina in 2001 after the Corralito. “We do not want to go back in any way. Here you can plan, there is work and there are possibilities”, she says.

As for Carlos, the political, economic and social crisis that Venezuela is going through forced this chemical engineer to leave the country with his wife and two children.

There are probably no easy answers or painless solutions when it comes to inflation, which globally and broadly is the result of breakdown of the distribution chain from the start of Covid-19 and later the war in Ukraine, which raised the price of commodities. In the case of the United States, some analysts agree that the trillions of dollars in stimulus programs that Biden spent on their implementation to face the ravages of the pandemic were part of the current scenario.

For alexander grisantieconomist and founding partner of Ecoanalítica, “The millennial generation is not used to living with inflation”As he told LA NACION, many businessmen in the United States are facing a completely unknown phenomenon.

According to Grisanti’s analysis, inflation has two effects. The first of these, and the most obvious to the consumer, is the increase in costs and prices. However, there is a effect of “second round” or “second round” in which the entrepreneur does not expect prices to rise, but rather it anticipates the increases and a “vicious circle” is created.

The economist maintains that the increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve was a “late reaction”. He projects that the year could close at 7%, but does not rule out touching the fearsome two figures.

On the other hand, some families reorganize themselves financially to cope with the increases. “We go to Costco every three or four months and we do a big market of household items: laundry detergent, toilet and kitchen paper, and personal hygiene items”, he expresses in conversation with LA NACION Victoria Jibirinwho has lived in the country for eight years and resides in Houston.

Inflation in the United States closed at 9.1% in June, the highest figure since the 1980s
Inflation in the United States closed at 9.1% in June, the highest figure since the 1980sJUSTIN SULLIVAN – GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

She and her husband own a medical equipment rental and sales company, so relocation costs are part of their personal and work budget. “Food increased, but so did gasoline. I went from filling the car with 23 dollars to paying 60″states this Venezuelan doctor.

In this sense, they are ordered to plan the routes and thus use less fuel. Just like for Marie Monique, the associated expenses of the car such as insurance and maintenance also skyrocketed.

In the vision of Ingrid Zunigawho has lived in Key Biscayne since 2019, the most impressive increase has been in real estate. “It’s crazy how prices have risen to buy or rent. At least in this area, the rent increased almost 100% and it is difficult to find options because there is no availability”, he comments to LA NACION.

For the economist Alejandro Grisanti, the millennial generation is oblivious to inflation
For the economist Alejandro Grisanti, the millennial generation is oblivious to inflationJUSTIN SULLIVAN – GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

This Venezuelan, who previously lived in Argentina for three years, points out that with her husband and daughters they do not go out to eat at restaurants as they used to in Buenos Aires and consider it a luxury. “A coffee on the street can easily cost you 5 dollars”given.

For her, the cost of gasoline is not far behind either. She says that three years ago she filled the car’s tank with 47 dollars, and now it costs 70. In the case of food, there is not much difference either. “They went up in an exorbitant way, and something that surprises me is that the supermarkets are not full of inventory. I felt overwhelmed every time I walked into one. Not now. There is everything, but not like before”, she closes.

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