Inflation Definition

Inflation definition

Inflation measures how rapidly prices rise over time, encompassing the general increase in costs and cost of living. It indicates how quickly currency loses value relative to goods or services, people can buy.


What Is Inflation?

Inflation is a decline in purchasing power due to the rise of prices, which can be gauged by observing the average price increase of goods and services over some period. This rate, often expressed as a percentage, means you’d need more currency units to buy less than before. It stands starkly opposite deflation when prices decrease and thus your buying power increases.


How Inflation Works

While the costs of singular items are straightforward, humans require more than just one or two goods. An array of various wares and services are needed for a content existence- commodities such as food, grains, and metal, resources like electricity and transportation, amenities including healthcare and entertainment, and labor.


By measuring the price transformations of myriad products and services, inflation can present an exact gauge for any upsurge in costs throughout an economy over time. This allows us to quickly determine how much extra money we need today versus yesterday or last month—no matter what it’s spent on.

As prices go up, the value of money depreciates, and people’s cost of living increases. In turn, this decelerates economic growth in a nation. Economists largely agree that when the money supply grows faster than its corresponding economy does, that triggers inflation which can be sustained over time.


To regulate the situation, a governing monetary authority (usually the central bank) carries out necessary measures to manage both money supply and credit to sustain an acceptable level of inflation and keep economic movements running steadily.


Monetarism is a widely accepted economic theory that explains the correlation between inflation and money supply. To illustrate, following Spain’s conquest of South American empires, large quantities of gold and silver were brought into Spanish markets as well as other European countries – this consequently caused an upsurge in the money supply, resulting in prices rising considerably due to lower value for money.


Inflation can be measured differently depending on the products and services used. This is the opposite of deflation, which indicates that prices have decreased when the inflation rate falls below 0%. It’s important to note that disinflation should not be confused with deflation – a related term referring to a decrease in (favorable) inflation rates.


3 Main Causes of Inflation

The source of inflation is an increase in a country’s money supply, which can manifest through various mechanisms. To raise the money supply, monetary authorities may employ any number of strategies, such as:


  • Printing more money to the citizens of a country
  • Legally diminishing the purchasing power of the legal tender currency.
  • Loaning new money into existence through the banking system is most commonly done by purchasing government bonds from banks on the secondary market. This allows reserve account credits to be created and circulated in the financial system.

In all cases, money becomes useless due to its decreased value. The causes of inflation can be classified into three categories: demand-pull, cost-push, and built-in inflation.


  1. Demand and Pull Effect

When a surge in money and credit supply stimulates the demand for goods and services to exceed their production rate, it increases prices – demand-pull inflation. This type of inflation results from an excess demand due to rising purchasing power caused by the excessive availability of capital.


People who access more significant financial resources often feel more optimistic and confident in their spending. This increased demand leads to a supply-demand gap, as the number of available goods cannot keep up with consumer interest; thus, prices will rise accordingly.


2.Cost and Push Effect

Cost-push inflation is a consequence of the cost escalation that traverses through inputs of production. Once additional money and credit are distributed into commodities or other asset markets, expenses for all forms of intermediate goods escalate substantially. This becomes strikingly apparent during negative economic disturbances to essential commodities’ supply.

These advances result in higher expenses for the final product or service and get passed on to consumers. To illustrate, when a government increases its money supply, it often results in oil speculation, which can drive up energy costs for everyone, leading to an increase in prices across the board that are easily noticeable through inflationary measures.


  1. Built-in Inflation

Adaptive expectations, or built-in inflation, suggest that individuals anticipate prices to continue rising at an established rate. Thus workers will strive for increased wages to maintain their lifestyle; these higher salaries then contribute to more expensive products and services, sparking a wage-price spiral as each element reinforces the other’s outcome.

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