At the last regular Oktoberfest 2019, one Maß already cost up to 11.80 EUR. In 1950 a visitor to the Oktoberfest had to pay only 0.82 EUR. Since 1950 the annual Oktoberfest beer inflation rate has equaled, on average, 3.8%. And how many Maß does an ounce of gold currently buy? It will buy you 121 Maß! We made the assumption that the price of beer has risen at the same rate in the past two years as it did in 2019, i.e. by 2.6% per year. A Maß would therefore cost EUR 12.40 this year. Measured against the historical average of 90 Maß, the beer purchasing power of gold is now well above the average.
Friends of gold and the hearty enjoyment of beer will be pleased to know that this year's Oktoberfest can still take place within their own four walls. After all, the lower price of gold means that 16 fewer measures could have been drunk this year than last. Yet compared to 2019, when “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” (“A toast to Gemütlichkeit” – a song, regularly played at the Oktoberfest) could actually be sung at the Wiesn, one can now acquire 6 additional Maß for the table despite the rise in the price of beer. From the historic high of 227 Maß per ounce of gold in 1980, we are still a long way away.
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How much of any given item one can buy with an ounce of gold is a useful way of thinking about how the purchasing power of one’s wealth has changed over time. The deviation of gold from the long-term average suggests something has changed in the rationale behind the calculus or it is going to be reasserted eventually.