Thursday, November 29, 2007
Oakland Drink Prices Defy Inflation, Stump Greenspan
Retired Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has had few moments in his storied career when he couldn't understand an economic trend. However, at a recent speaking engagement at Carnegie Mellon University, Greenspan noticed a decidedly incongruent price trend from his last trip to Oakland in 1998.
“I couldn’t believe some of the signs I was seeing outside the [Oakland] bars,” recalled Greenspan. “What immediately caught my eye was a sign for twenty cent drafts at a bar called Boomerang’s. Twenty cents? What the [expletive]? Last time I was here, I was making it rain dollar bills at that same location when it was CJ Barney’s and I was amazed at how many [expletive – plural] I could get liquored up with twenty-five cent drafts. Now, nearly a decade later, I can still impress the [expletive – plural] with an extra drink per each dollar spent.”
University of Pittsburgh Regional Economist Chris Briem confirmed Greenspan’s observations with a report to be released next Thursday night at Gene’s Place. The report, entitled “The Inflatiatory Value of a Dollar and the Oakland Beer Market,” finds a remarkable trend throughout a longitudinal study of twelve Oakland drinkeries. Miraculously, Briem found a stagnant or declined price trend in drinking establishments coupled with the expected normal inflationary increase in eating establishments when comparing the cost of food over the same time period as alcohol.
“What we did was we took a cost standard product and compared it to the prices of certain beers over the same time period,” explained Briem. “We took Antoon’s pizza as our control value. Over a ten year period, the price has risen with the same variable rate of inflation for the period. In 1998, the pie cost $3.79 and then rose a couple years later to $4.29, $4.69, and now it is at its current $4.79. Now comparing that standard to an import bottle such as Heineken, which would have cost three dollars in 1998 at most establishments, under the current market conditions we can find that same bottle selling for a dollar in many cases, a decrease over one hundred fifty percent. Amazing.”
While researchers have been stumped by the change, the findings don’t come as a surprise to many local bartenders.
“Cheap-ass booze hounds, that would be my explanation,” summarized Garage Door Bartender Larry Walters. “The lower price we can sell some swill, the more volume of sales we take in and the more money these fucks shell out when they get drunk. They buy more expensive shots, play touch screen photo hunt, and load up the jukebox with money once they get a nice buzz going. But I just wish these fuckwads would pass along some of the savings they’re getting into more generous tips. But that doesn’t ever occur to these a’holes.”
Even though Greenspan has been out-economized by local barkeeps, he isn’t exactly complaining about the trend.
“While there’s been a drop in prices, I’ve also noticed a corresponding drop in cleavage since I was last in Oakland. And thanks to the development of the miracle drug Viagra, I’ve noticed a significant rise in other areas when I drink in Oakland. On behalf of my wife [NBC correspondent and occasional Souf Oaklin fo' Life!!! contributor Andrea Mitchell], I’d like to thank the Oakland community for these trends,” concluded Greenspan.