Understanding inflation

The Inequities of Inflation - Positively Naperville

Inflation is a term we here very frequently in today’s world. Several economies of the world are now in the crunches of inflation. In this situation, let us read about inflation in detail.

What is inflation?

In economics, inflation is a general increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a reduction in the purchasing power of money. The opposite of inflation is deflation, a sustained decrease in the general price level of goods and services. The common measure of inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index. As prices do not all increase at the same rate, the consumer price index (CPI) is often used for this purpose.

Causes of inflation:

There were different schools of thought as to the causes of inflation. Most can be divided into two broad areas: quality theories of inflation and quantity theories of inflation.

Currently, the quantity theory of money is widely accepted as an accurate model of inflation in the long run. Consequently, there is now broad agreement among economists that in the long run, the inflation rate is essentially dependent on the growth rate of the money supply relative to the growth of the economy. However, in the short- and medium-term inflation may be affected by supply and demand pressures in the economy, and influenced by the relative elasticity of wages, prices and interest rates.

The quality theory of inflation rests on the expectation of a seller accepting currency to be able to exchange that currency at a later time for goods they desire as a buyer. The quantity theory of inflation rests on the quantity equation of money that relates the money supply, its velocity, and the nominal value of exchanges.

Measures of inflation

Consumers’ cost of living depends on the prices of many goods and services and the share of each in the household budget. To measure the average consumer’s cost of living, government agencies conduct household surveys to identify a basket of commonly purchased items and track over time the cost of purchasing this basket. The cost of this basket at a given time expressed relative to a base year is the consumer price index (CPI), and the percentage change in the CPI over a certain period is consumer price inflation, the most widely used measure of inflation.

Core consumer inflation focuses on the underlying and persistent trends in inflation by excluding prices set by the government and the more volatile prices of products, such as food and energy, most affected by seasonal factors or temporary supply conditions. Core inflation is also watched closely by policymakers. Calculation of an overall inflation rate—for a country, say, and not just for consumers—requires an index with broader coverage, such as the GDP deflator.

Types of inflation

Cost-Push Effect

Cost-push inflation is a result of the increase in prices working through the production process inputs. When additions to the supply of money and credit are channeled into a commodity or other asset markets and especially when this is accompanied by a negative economic shock to the supply of key commodities, costs for all kinds of intermediate goods rise.

Built-in Inflation

Built-in inflation is related to adaptive expectations, the idea that people expect current inflation rates to continue in the future. As the price of goods and services rises, workers and others come to expect that they will continue to rise in the future at a similar rate and demand more costs or wages to maintain their standard of living. Their increased wages result in a higher cost of goods and services, and this wage-price spiral continues as one factor induces the other and vice-versa.

Demand-Pull Effect

Demand-pull inflation occurs when an increase in the supply of money and credit stimulates overall demand for goods and services in an economy to increase more rapidly than the economy’s production capacity. This increases demand and leads to price rises.

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