Content of the article: "Estimated buying power of a cap"
This is mainly in Fallout 4 as I'm using those prices.
Preface: We all know that inflation was rampant, as we can see magazines and other such books being sold for anywhere between $30-$60, and gas or "coolant" prices being well into the 100s of dollars. With that being said, gold and silver have always been a solid basis for an economy before the implementation of the "Petrol Dollar" which was established in 1973. So we can assume that the US was still on the Gold Standard. However, with the proliferation of the usage of Uranium, as can be extrapolated by the song "Uranium Fever" where it is stated that "Uranium is worth more than gold" it is possible that the US had moved from the Gold Standard to a Uranium Standard. All of these will be taken into account. So we will have 4 possibilities, with a Gold Economy, a "Petrol" Economy (current), and a Uranium Economy.
the gold prince in Fallout 4 is… odd. With one salvaged unit being worth 9 caps, and a shipment of 25 being worth 45 per unit. If we were to subtract 15% from the shipment (markup cost/retail price) we would get ~38. Average the two together and we get 23.5 or for simplicity 24 caps per unit. A unit of gold is about .1lbs so we get the cost of a pound at 240 caps.
The price of a pound of gold in the US varies on the purity of the metal. As I doubt we are dealing with pure gold, I will say that the gold in fallout is 6K or 25% pure. that would bring the price of a pound of gold to $6,822. (using https://meltvalue.com/gold)
If we do the math
6882/240 = 28.675
So we come One Cap having the buying power of $28.68 IF we use the gold standard.
For some more numbers in order to better pin the number down, I will also be taking into account silver. Silver sells for 6 caps per unit, and 750 for a shipment of 25. Using the same methodology for gold, we come to 18 caps per unit and 180 for a pound. For IRL silver, using 75% purity, as the US standard for silver is around 82% and I will take into account impurities that may come from refinement. 1lb of silver is $282.8
282.8/180 = ~$1.57 per cap.
If we average those two out we get
1cap = $15.1225 (USD 2020)
This is going to be more difficult. Considering there is no centralized banking in Fallout. So this might be impossible to determine. However, we can use analogs to see the prices of goods in 2077, and by using those we can extrapolate their buying power. It should also be noted that there are certain things that may have not retained their value. For instance, a bottle of water would be worth more than a coat in the wastelands due to it being rarer and more in demand. I think if we use arms we may be able to gain an idea of the value of a cap.
The Assult Rife, being a prewar weapon the M199. Is an obvious analog for the real M16. They both fire 5.56 ammo and are part of the same family.
So an M16 is priced at $673 for the government to buy, while a citizen may have to pay upwards of 30K. I will be using the $673 price as this is closer to its actual worth, without needing tax stamps and licenses to own.
The M199 it worth around 182 caps.
Doing the math
673/182 = 3.69(nice)
Using the analog of ammo…
Using a box of Winchester 5.56, we can see that a box of 20 is being sold for $15 (On sale for 13 at https://www.sportsmansoutdoorsuperstore.com/category.cfm/sportsman/5.56-x-45-mm-nato-ammunition-for-sale if anyone is interested.) So we can take a box of fallout ammo for 60 caps. We can come to an IRL round for 70cents and a fallout round for 2 caps.
.7/2= 1 cap is 35cents
Averaging them out we get
1 cap = $2.02
After doing some research I realized that it would be impossible for me to try and figure out the price of uranium as it was much more valuable than it ever had been today. For Uranium to be true "Worth more than gold" it would need to increase in value over 20 times as a pound of uranium is around $250 while "trash gold" or 6k gold is worth $6882. Because of this glaring discrepancy, I cannot make an educated or confident estimation.
Going off of a gold standard, we can assume that a Cap has the same buying power as ~$15 today, which would make the impoverished conditions much more believable as the price of food is extremely expensive. And in a "petrol" economy, we can see a Cap is roughly $2.
That's it. If you have anything to add please do. I am not an economist or currency speculator. So if I made any glaring mistake please let me know with all the wrath and fury you can. Thank you.
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