Saturday, 25 February 2012

An incredibly good deal...

courtesy of
A friend recently sent me, for entertainment, the latest update on Forbes' "Cost of Living Extremely Well" (CLEWI). If you were thinking about having a spa treatment, or buying that Learjet, Steinway, or Beluga, better hurry; nothing that is really nice is getting any cheaper. As a matter of fact, the Cost of Living Extremely Well has risen much more than the cost of living index in general. Of course, that is partly because statistical offices seem to see it as their job to define ordinary living cost so that almost everything that goes up in price is not counted or explained away by "quality improvements". It's not as bad as in Argentina, but the way that indices have gone in the last 20 years makes them increasingly remote from people's experience (with the biggest howler the Eurostat decision not to include owner-occupied housing in the harmonized price index - they claim it is too difficult. I am not making that up - but they are working on it).

One thing that goes into the CLEWI is the cost of Harvard tuition, room, and board, which is up another 4%, to $52,652 - just like every year, a rise ahead of headline US inflation. Actually, there are very good reasons why we SHOULD expect the cost of education to rise faster than the CPI.

So is there one thing that ISN'T up? That offers the same or better value than, say, six years ago - and doesn't cost a penny extra? That's right - attending the Master's programs at Barcelona GSE. They were €12,000 in 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, and in 2012-13, they will still exactly and precisely cost €12,000. Everything else costs more - coffee, electricity, subway tickets, restaurant meals. But you can get a sterling education in Europe's most glorious city by the Med for what must be one of the best prices in the world of higher education... Of course, tuition revenues don't cover all the costs of running world-class econ departments; there is a large subsidy here somewhere from the hard-pressed taxpayers in Catalunya. Buy while it lasts, I say.

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