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A preview of policy discussions of inflation

This chapter has focused on how inflation is measured, historical experience with inflation, how to adjust nominal variables into real ones, how inflation affects the economy, and how indexing works. The causes of inflation have barely been hinted at, and government policies to deal with inflation have not been addressed at all. These issues will be taken up in depth in other chapters. However, it is useful to offer a preview here.

The cause of inflation can be summed up in one sentence: Too many dollars chasing too few goods. The great surges of inflation early in the twentieth century came after wars, which are a time when government spending is very high, but consumers have little to buy, because production is going to the war effort. Governments also commonly impose price controls during wartime. After the war, the price controls end and pent-up buying power surges forth, driving up inflation. On the other hand, if too few dollars are chasing too many goods, then inflation will decline or even turn into deflation. Therefore, slowdowns in economic activity, as in major recessions and the Great Depression, are typically associated with a reduction in inflation or even outright deflation.

The policy implications are clear. If inflation is to be avoided, the amount of purchasing power in the economy must grow at roughly the same rate as the production of goods. Macroeconomic policies that the government can use to affect the amount of purchasing power—through taxes, spending, and regulation of interest rates and credit—can thus cause inflation to rise or reduce inflation to lower levels.

A $550 million loaf of bread?

As we will learn in Money and Banking , the existence of money provides enormous benefits to an economy. In a real sense, money is the lubrication that enhances the workings of markets. Money makes transactions easier. It allows people to find employment producing one product, then use the money earned to purchase the other products they need to live on. However, too much money in circulation can lead to inflation. Extreme cases of governments recklessly printing money lead to hyperinflation. Inflation reduces the value of money. Hyperinflation, because money loses value so quickly, ultimately results in people no longer using money. The economy reverts to barter, or it adopts another country’s more stable currency, like U.S. dollars. In the meantime, the economy literally falls apart as people leave jobs and fend for themselves because it is not worth the time to work for money that will be worthless in a few days.

Only national governments have the power to cause hyperinflation. Hyperinflation typically happens when government faces extraordinary demands for spending, which it cannot finance by taxes or borrowing. The only option is to print money—more and more of it. With more money in circulation chasing the same amount (or even less) goods and services, the only result is higher and higher prices until the economy and/or the government collapses. This is why economists are generally wary of letting inflation get out of control.

Key concepts and summary

A payment is said to be indexed if it is automatically adjusted for inflation. Examples of indexing in the private sector include wage contracts with cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and loan agreements like adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Examples of indexing in the public sector include tax brackets and Social Security payments.

Problems

If inflation rises unexpectedly by 5%, indicate for each of the following whether the economic actor is helped, hurt, or unaffected:

  1. A union member with a COLA wage contract
  2. Someone with a large stash of cash in a safe deposit box
  3. A bank lending money at a fixed rate of interest
  4. A person who is not due to receive a pay raise for another 11 months

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Rosalie the Retiree knows that when she retires in 16 years, her company will give her a one-time payment of $20,000. However, if the inflation rate is 6% per year, how much buying power will that $20,000 have when measured in today’s dollars? Hint : Start by calculating the rise in the price level over the 16 years.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

References

Wines, Michael. “How Bad is Inflation in Zimbabwe?” The New York Times , May 2, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/world/africa/02zimbabwe.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

Hanke, Steve H. “R.I.P. Zimbabwe Dollar.” CATO Institute . Accessed December 31, 2013. http://www.cato.org/zimbabwe.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2015. "Billion Prices Project." Accessed March 4, 2015. http://bpp.mit.edu/usa/.

Questions & Answers

what economics is all about?
Nomuhle Reply
what is a new paradigm shift
Austen Reply
Paradigm shift it is the reconcilliation of fedural goods in production
Shyline
factors that affecting economic system
Bemen Reply
crux
Shyline
what is microeconomics
Nkanyiso Reply
what is the main problem in our economy
Nkanyiso
crux
Austen
what does crux mean
Shyline
what is demand
Jervis Reply
what are the factors of demand
Jervis
What is money and banking
Dorcas Reply
which one of the bank do product money
Dorcas
central bank
Mohamed
no .... all bank its self...
Buayadarat_Gaming
commercial banking
Mohamed
different types of products banking are .... 1 bills of exchange, 2 leasing, 3 project finance and so on
Mohamed
Demand and supply
Jervis
money can be defined as a medium of exchange
Jervis
how third party insurance premium is calculated?
Eshetu Reply
why scarcity is a problem in economics.
AYAABA Reply
don't worry about it, it's everywhere b/c no resources are full off in the world, b/c geometric increase of population growth.
Eshetu
okay
Shyline
price elasticity of demand is a percentage change in quantity demanded/percentage change in price.
Fadiga Reply
what is the formula for elasticity
Favy Reply
please be specific. Is it elasticity of demand or supply
Moses
we do not have a specific formulae for elasticity but we do have formulae for the types of elasticity and these are the types.Namely price elasticity of demand,Income elasticity of demand and cross elasticity of demand. please be a specific with your question.
Fadiga
sorry elasticity of Demand
Favy
The elasticity of demand is the change in demand due to the change in one or more of the variable factors that it depends on. ... The responsiveness of the quantity demanded to the change in income is called Income elasticity of demand while that to the price is called Price elasticity of demand.
ushindi
price-elasticity-demand-formula Price elasticity of demand = % change in Q.D. / % change in Price
ushindi
what is socialist economics
andy Reply
socialist economics is diffined as the reduction in production possibility curve where as production possibility curve frontial is when it shows the reduction in business and it will also lead to ceteris paribus
Shyline
Socialist economy, is a system of government, in which the means of product is in the hands of the government
Blessing
Change in quantity supplied
Haja Reply
what happened when there is a decrease in investment ?
simeon
what is a minimum wage?
Emelyn
Haja: Change in Quantity Supplied mostly is associated with the supply curve and changes in pricing strategy in response to the changes in market conditions. May in which context are you asking it?
AmarbirSingh
Simeon: When there is a decrease in the amount invested then the amount of funding available is less and the level of production is low leading to less amount of goods and services available for consumption in the economy. Increases on the other hand will lead to development if managed properly.
AmarbirSingh
Otherwise, lead to Bankruptcy
AmarbirSingh
Emelyn: Minimum Wage: This is the minimum sum of money that should be paid to employees across the country to be able to afford a life-style where they can pay their bills on time and have food on the table, roof over their heads and money to travel and commute to and from one place.
AmarbirSingh
Thank you so much, AmarbirSingh Sandhu..
Emelyn
Career Progression and getting your investments right leads to wealth Generation and Management and Transfer.
AmarbirSingh
Emelyn: Your Welcome.
AmarbirSingh
assalam aleykum,I would like to ask if the world has not security what would happen?
Abdoulkarim
how can we define marginal cost I mean I used TC devided Q but teacher said it is not true
Ixtiyor
could you give me exact formula
Ixtiyor
extra
Iyabo
meaning
Iyabo
Emelyn this is the definition of minimum wages. Minimum wage is a least legal wage fixed above the equilibrium(market) wage by the legislative authorities below which it is illegal to employ labour in the labour market.
Fadiga
Two indifference curves cannot cut each other because:
Bilal Reply
because it shows that the business will go down or it will lose profit
Shyline
differentiate between normative statement and positive statement
Nkanyiso
What is scarcity
Ohemaa Reply
What is elasticity
Ohemaa
Elasticity is a tool in economics to Measure the Fluctuations in product price and the Quantity of products and services being sold.
AmarbirSingh
In business and economics, elasticity refers to the degree to which individuals, consumers, or producers change their demand or the amount supplied in response to price or income changes. It is predominantly used to assess the change in consumer demand as a result of a change in a good or service's
AmarbirSingh
Scarcity is the shortage of raw materials in the economy due to inefficient management and incompetent leadership of xyz authority leading to production and supply issues in correlation to the demand of those products, services and commodities available.
AmarbirSingh
Hope that answers the questions
AmarbirSingh
Have a great day ahead
AmarbirSingh
OK..
Emelyn
Scarcity it is the production of goods in economics
Shyline
Scarcity is not the production of goods in economics.
MARTIN
okay
Shyline
what are the factors that causes change in demand?
Nomuhle Reply
competition for one
Kudzie
okay thanks
Nomuhle
competition for one
Kudzie
Double coincidence of one
Shyline
These are the factors that cause change in demand. (1) Taste and fashion (2)income of the consumer (3)price of related commodities (4)size of the population. (5) weather conditions can also cause change in demand.
Fadiga

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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