Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quote of the Week (Czech edition)

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about how I was still proud to be an American, because the beer is cheap and plentiful. That is still a glorious fact. Nevertheless, I am at least considering the alternative of moving to Prague, where the median income may be lower, but the beer prices are too. Diving right in...


"At a typical local pub, a pint—500 milliliters, actually, in this metric-measuring country—costs about $1. A similar portion of water, juice or soda generally costs twice as much. Offering free tap water as at U.S. eateries is extremely rare. At U Zelenku, a neighborhood institution for more than a century, for instance, a pint of the cheapest beer goes for 99 cents. The same size of soda water is $1.30. At the fancier Kolkovna restaurant in touristy Old Town, a pint is $2.50, while mineral water is $2.29, for a bottle less than half the size."
                                      - Sean Carney; Wall Street Journal

This dynamic isn't exactly new to me, as I experienced a similar economic curiosity in my trip to Italy a couple of years ago—the house wine carafes (vino della casa) sold for prices around €3.50 (about $5) for a half-liter. That's not quite cheaper than water, but it was certainly in the same ballpark as the soft drinks at many restaurants. Wine for lunch, it is, then...

Of course, there's always a risk to looking only at the price of one product and trying to determine anything meaningful about the overall state of the economy. Beer prices alone are meaningless, for example, without also knowing what typical food prices might be—it could be that in Prague, general business practice is to slash the prices of booze, and to attempt to make the money on the food instead (as I've previously argued, the opposite seems to be the case in many U.S. restaurants). Or there may be dozens of other factors at play, all of which help drive down the cost of beer in restaurants.

Either way, who wants to go on a Czech pub crawl with me? First pilsner is on me.

[Wall Street Journal]
(h/t Tyler Cowen)

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