a bit ago i asked on twitter and and facebook, “Without googling it, when was gas under $1/gallon in the US?” and received a lot of answers, many of them wrong ( in retrospect i should have asked when was the last time prices were under a $1/per gallon because there was a the whole oil crisis which raised prices in the late 70s ). the answer? in nonimal terms – 1999, which is surprising. i guessed the late-80’s. that’s the answer to the spirit of the question, when was the last time you could stare at a gas pump and see a price under $1/gallon. an economist would ask, “yes but when was the real price ( i.e. adjusted for inflation ) under $1/gallon”. that answer is equally surprising. in 2012 dollars, a gallon of gas has never been under $1/gallon and the 2011 average price of gas was just over the real price paid in 1919.
that home you bought in 1979 has lost 8.5% of its inflation-adjusted value and is now similar to inflation adusted prices of 1894. i’m guessing a generation of folks accustomed to thinking of a a home as a cash machine would be surprised to learn that, in real terms, prices for U.S. home prices changed very little from 1890 to the mid-1990s.