Monday, October 27, 2014

Singapore Inflation: Price of curry rice as benchmark.




In Singapore, a plate of curry rice with various sides of meat and vegetables  is what ordinary workers commonly have for lunch or dinner. Thus, a standardized plate of curry rice can be a benchmark for consumer price inflation.

I have been tracking the price of the same plate of curry rice for 50 years. This is the famed original Scissors Cut Curry Rice now at the corner of Jalan Besar and Kitchener Road.
I first ate it in 1964, when it was at Garden Street, For 50 years I have been ordering the same combination of sides: breaded pork chop in black soya sauce, braised pork belly, fried egg, and cabbage every time I go to eat the curry rice. And every ten years ,in October I would record the price. Here is a chart of the price of a plate of rice with the same four sides, over the last fifty years. If you take a simple average, which assumes a constant rate of change, the price increase is [(4.90-1.20)/1.20]/50=6.1 % per year. Which is above the normal rate of inflation of between 2-5%, but still not so bad. But if you look at slope of the graph, it is an exponential curve with more recent years having a higher rate of increase. I just ate it today, and its 4.90 when I remember it was 4.50 6 months ago.
Why did I track the price so faithfully over half a century? It's because I consider the price of this plate of curry rice a benchmark of inflation for an ordinary blue-collar worker's meal.

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