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Inflation: Super Bowl Ticket Prices Up 50%

Want to buy a last minute ticket to the Super Bowl? You better have more cash than last year because what it cost then won’t even get you a parking spot near Cowboys Stadium next Sunday.

The lowest price on resale sites for this year’s game is more than $2000, up 50 percent from the $1,300 purchase price a week before the big game on these same ticket broker sites in 2010, according to Nicholas Colas, Chief Market Strategist at BNY ConvergEx, in a note to clients. Parking spots in front of the stadium are $1,000.

Now why is a market strategist writing about Super Bowl ticket prices? Turns out that the change in price is a decent gauge of the state of the economy and a leading indicator of inflation.

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“The dramatic uptick in aftermarket pricing over just one year is a pretty pure signal that the mood of the high-end consumer is markedly better than just a year ago,” said Colas, who regularly fits fun pop culture themes into his market and economic analysis.

A report today from Thomson Reuters and the University Michigan showed that consumer confidence this month remained steady compared to the end of last year. Today’s strong 4th quarter GDP report reflected the biggest jump in consumer spending in more than four years.

The problem though, Colas points out, is that the Super Bowl price change indicator may signal that only the high-end consumer is driving the improvement in confidence. Also, the ticket to the biggest sporting event of the year may be a high-beta leading indicator of inflation.

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Getty Images
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

“The Fed’s continued efforts to create some inflation by keeping interest rates low and pushing capital into risk assets such as stocks is one reason why high end consumers feel better this year than in 2010 and so they push up the price of Super Bowl tickets,” wrote Colas. “The rest of us can watch the game, and the commercials, and the half time show from home. But the same increasing price dynamic can easily spill over into the economy as a whole, and that is the cautionary bit of the story.”

The Federal Reserve said this week that it would maintain its purchases of $600 billion in Treasuries in order to keep interest rates low.

“It’s the sweet spot where excess liquidity and a genuine recovery meet, said Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services. “Everything is being inflated except for housing and wages.”

Prices may also reflect the match-up between two classic NFL teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, and the location. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas is the newest and most modern stadium in the league. And we should note that ticket prices year to year never actually go down for this country’s biggest annual sports showcase. They just stay flat during rough times.

“Folks are still spending, but they’re just being more selective,” said Pete Najarian, co-founder of TradeMonster.com and former NFL linebacker. “Plus, it’s the greatest game there is.”

For the best market insight, catch 'Fast Money' each night at 5pm ET, and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC.

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