Your shopping cart is empty!
The debate about whether we will experience inflation (caused by excessive money printing) or deflation (caused by an economic slowdown) has been raging for quite some time now. If you buy beef or houses in big cities, you might have noticed some inflation. But in the ball bearing market, one can make a serious case for deflation.
Austrian economists deflne inflation as an increase in the money supply. By that definition, there has been massive inflation all over the world. To find the inflation, you just have to look at where the money has gone. In the U.S. and in many places around the world, that money has gone largely into the stock market (through, for example, debt-financed corporate stock buybacks), the housing market and into a few other places like sub-prime auto loans.
In China, a lot of that money has gone into the housing market (fuelling a huge Chinese housing market bubble.) but also into factories to expand industrial production. There is certainly evidence that there has been a great expansion of the bearing supply. I created a Facebook account for Bearings.Parts (mainly because that's apparently what you have to do these days to get your search engine rankings up), and soon found myself with over 700 "friends", many of whom have been offering to sell me bearings. (Please be assured that bearings.parts has established great relationships with their suppliers over the years and have a supply pipeline that we trust and that has been delivering us quality bearings for many, many years now. We do not buy bearings without visiting the factories we buy from and setting up procedures to ensure quality control.)
There are currently a lot of people out there trying to sell ball bearings. With a quick google search, if your volume is high enough, I am certain you could find a company willing to ship you bearings direct from China at unbelievable prices. Buying from those people, however, would be like having unprotected sex in a brothel. It might feel good but why would you take that chance?
These people all seem very nice and they are certainly hard working. But the fact that there are so many of them makes me think that bearing prices will go nowhere but down for the foreseeable future. It is also a reflection of where globalization might be headed, as a huge number of my new friends hail from places like India and Pakistan, though China is still very well represented. Many of these companies produce a bewildering number of brand name bearings--SKF, NTN, Koyo--which is probably a side effect of so many of those companies having moved some of their operations to China. Engineering follows manufacturing and India, Korea and China are all graduating more engineers than the U.S.
The supply that is out there may or may not be of good quality. Much of it is certainly counterfeit. But the fact remains that the supply is out there and prices will be falling because the supply seems to have far out-stripped the demand. Look for great prices in the future, but be careful who you buy from.