### Fact-checking The Economist

Here is a question for students who are learning about compounding. What is wrong with the following passage from

In fact, the price level from 1946 to 1981 rose by a factor of about 5, so holding currency with a zero nominal return led to a real loss of only about 80 percent.

*The Economist*magazine?Investors who bought Treasury bonds in 1946, when yields were around current levels, did not suffer a formal default. But over the following 35 years they lost money in real terms at a rate of 2% a year. The cumulative real loss was 91%. By that standard, Greek creditors, who recently suffered a 50% loss via default, were lucky.Answer: The second number is inconsistent with the first. Note that .98^35=.49, so we get only a 51 percent cumulative loss.

In fact, the price level from 1946 to 1981 rose by a factor of about 5, so holding currency with a zero nominal return led to a real loss of only about 80 percent.

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