Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Twelve Days of Christmas in a Pandemic

In the past, I have frequently found it amusing to see the PNC calculation of the CPI. In case you thought it strange that a right-brained entrepreneurial lawyer like me was amused by something as mundane as the Consumer Price Index, this time of year CPI stands for Christmas Price Index. Essentially, it is an attempt to calculate the cost of acquiring the items listed in the classic Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

I hadn’t thought to focus on it in the middle of my efforts to help a few entrepreneurial clients close their M&A and financing deals before year end (fingers crossed), and in the middle of a global pandemic no less, but then I happened on this article in Forbes and started thinking about how COVID-19 might have impacted the calculation.

It turns out that the CPI actually decreased by over 58% from last year . . . sort of. The actual cost didn’t decrease for any of the items on the list, although it did stay the same for a few varieties of birds (Calling Birds, Swans-a-Swimming and the ever popular Partridge in a Pear Tree). Other varieties of birds saw their values increase materially with Turtle Doves, French Hens, and Geese-a-Laying increasing by 50%, >15%, and >35%, respectively. Add to that a 14.5% increase in gold rings and you start to wonder how the overall cost could be down so dramatically?

The answer is pretty obvious . . . at least to a musical theatre freak like me. In case you haven’t noticed, it is impossible to have a live, in-person performance of anything in December 2020 (or really at any time since last March)! The latest calculation of CPI includes no value for Ladies Dancing, Lords-a-Leaping, Pipers Piping, and Drummers Drumming. 

At the risk of infringing on the trademark rights of a certain credit card company (you know, the one with the logo that looks like a red and yellow Venn diagram), I submit that the value of those 42 individuals (9+10+11+12, for those counting along) shouldn’t be calculated as zero because they aren’t available, but should be considered “Priceless.” To be fair, with so many talented performers out of work, it may not actually cost that much to have a virtual performance of those professionals “Zoomed” into your living room, but it seems like leaving them off the CPI in 2020 because they aren’t available isn’t a fair representation.

In any event, Happy Holidays and here’s to a great 2021 for all our loyal entreVIEW readers!

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