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People Are Calling Bull On A New Report Claiming That ‘Average Americans’ Are Paying $90 For Wine

America has a lot of problems right now. Vigilantism. Violent rhetoric among politicians. And there’s this: The nation is currently in the midst of a spike in inflation, with prices rising as the nation struggles to find some way out of the pandemic. Food prices are high; gas prices are higher. The Federal Reserve has tried to ease nerves, saying it will likely be transitory. Meanwhile, the right has used this to create panic, in a naked attempt to scare people from voting Democrat next fall. (Though conservatives aren’t the only ones.) But there are still reports like the one by Market Watch, which made such unlikely claims that much of social media couldn’t resist calling bull.

The piece claims that the U.S. is seeing the highest inflation in 31 years, and among the industries hit are concertgoing and booze. Writer Vivien Lou Chen asserts that “average Americans are paying as much as $100 to $200 for a single concert ticket, $90 for a bottle of wine, and $5 a gallon for gas.”

This was the intel Market Watch’s social media team highlighted in a tweet. And when that tweet went viral, people were not convinced that any of that was true, especially the bit about wine.

Granted, Chen used the words “as much as,” but that still seemed far-fetched. If it was true, though, that a typical household was able to shell out almost 100 bucks for a bottle of wine, then that would imply the economy’s booming.

Some wondered if “average Americans” actually meant “billionaires.”

Mother Jones published a longer response to the Market Watch piece, debunking claims that concert tickets had suddenly become very pricey.

Concert tickets have been maddeningly expensive for a while—driven by a single giant company’s domination of the market, not some mysterious force lifting all prices. As someone who just two days ago snagged a perfectly delicious French red for $11, I’m amused by the notion that there exists some “average American” (a construction Lou Chen uses three times) who feels compelled to fork over near-three-figure sums for the pleasure of a bottle.

They allowed that gas prices are indeed high, though perhaps not as high as Chen claims.

Gas prices are indeed high, and unlike live music and booze, millions of Americans can’t opt out of driving because it’s too expensive; people have to get to work and shop, and our mass transit system is generally a joke. But as New York‘s Eric Levitz recently argued, this phenomenon stems from a tangle of factors including the 2010s fracking boom-bust saga and the demand for windfall profits from petro-states like Saudi Arabia and Russia.

In other words, to conjure the specter of runaway inflation, the Marketwatch piece leans on two phantom examples and one that can’t be fixed easily by the conventional governmental tools for bringing down consumer prices.

In conclusion, Mother Jones says there “are plenty of things to worry about, but inflation isn’t one of them.” Neither are pricey bottles of Malbec.

(Via Market Watch and Mother Jones)