With U.S. inflation running something above 4 percent, and figures on consumer prices out last week, we looked for Web sites to help businesspeople make sense of the numbers and trends.

Inflation calculator. Here at the Web site of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, you scroll to an inflation calculator that compares the buying power of money between any two years from 1913 to the present. The results can be quite sobering. For example, $1,000 in 1913 had the buying power of $20,690 in 2007.



Inflation data. Editor Timothy McMahon has filled out this site to cover almost every imaginable angle on inflation. He even has a system that predicts inflationary trends and says it can be useful for making investment moves.


Consumer prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is keeper of the consumer price indexes, which track the costs of various groups of goods and services. It all gets complicated because prices vary a lot from region to region, and some numbers - such as those for food and energy - can be volatile. This site allows you to zero in on specific places and price categories so that you can make clearer business decisions.


Measuring worth. Two fancy economics professors got together to create this site that has astounding databases to tell us how things like wages, gross domestic product, and gold prices have fared, in some cases from the middle of the 13th century. You can also find out the growth rate of the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500, or the Nasdaq Stock Market between any two dates in their histories. Is that cool, or what?


Cosmic inflation. Read from Symmetry magazine a brief description of how Stanford researcher Alan Guth discovered that the universe itself has undergone inflation. Hey, in that case, is there really any hope that the Fed can control it? We don't think so.