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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

how to calculate inflation
Richard Reply
Explain the factors that have led to high quantity demanded
Ogwang Reply
price of the product increase of price substitute product as people shift to cheap one
Black
what are the methods used by trade union to increase wages of their members?
Black Reply
strike
Pearl
the size of the commodity
Mensah
increase demand of labour decrease supply of labour
Black
I do support your answer Jackel.
keshav
but how do they do it?
Black
by increasing more labour and reduced the suppliers
Mensah
they can not increase labour, they increase demand of labour.
Black
how do they increase demand for labor?
Black
by analyzing the market equilibrium , cost reduction and cost control , savings in time .
yash
decreasing supply of labour are achieved through training and certification that require for you to employed, you must have certificate, also trade union encouraged government to restrict migration into the country causing shortage of labour supply. Note that the aim of union is to enhance life
Black
objective of union: better working conditions, liveable wage, protect member from unfair treatment which are done through negotiations betweens representative and management. known as collective bargaining.
Black
what is the nature of economics?
Tyscar Reply
economics is a social science since it seeks to solve social problem of scarcity
Jamal
main concerns is the decision individuals make on the allocation of scarce resources among the competing wants
Black
in the short run firm produce a positive as long as the price is larger than what?
yoel Reply
what is economic
Bah Reply
economics is the study of managing the resources in order to maximize the needs and satisfy the wants to a great extent in a regulated set-up..
Muhammad
One explanation for deviation when there is no impact on balance of trade
Shaneel
economic s is a social science that deals with human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which has alternative uses
Derokiz
economic is a study of mankind in ordinary business of life
FIDELIS
economics it is the study of social science that deals with human behaviour as relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses
salam
what is diminishing returns
Blessed Reply
what is the difference between calculus linear equation and derivative?
Bti
whats inferior goods?
jaamac Reply
Good having low quality , also known as giffin goods. When income increases people shift to better quality goods . Hence having a negative effect on inferior goods rather than positive relation ( ie when income increases demand increases but not in case of inferior goods ) example wheat and bajra .
yash
What do u understand by the word ENDS in professor Lord L C Robinson definition of Economics?
Kaba Reply
I understand that ENDS is the unlimited needs of human. But we have limited resources to achieve our unlimited needs/wants. Thank you.
Midhun
variable is a factor that can change
nyodb Reply
did you understand definition of variablE
nyodb
what is monopoly
Shahid Reply
A market situation where there is a single seller of a product for the buyers.
harmony
monopoly is when you have a product in the market and only one supplier got this product so he starts rising price and dominate the market, cause this product doesn't have a competitor
Anas
A market structure characterized by a single seller, selling a unique product in the market. In a monopoly market, the seller faces no competition, as he is the sole seller of goods with no close substitute.
Jale
This is a kind of market that only one seller dominate the market without no competition of a y product or seller.
Ojo
what is production possibility curve?
Lisa
a production possibility curve is a diagram that shows two goods produced in an economy in such a way that increase in the production of one good cannot be done without the decrease on the production of the other. there are efficient points, inefficient points and unattainable points on the PPC
The
production possibility curve or frontier is useful analytical tool for illustrating the concepts of scarcity, choice and opportunity costs.
wilflay
The International Year of Soils, 2015 (IYS 2015) was declared by the Sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly on December 20th, 2013 after recognizing December 5th as World Soil Day.The purpose of the IYS is to raise awarenessworldwide of the importance of soils for food security,
what
what is indifference curve
Evet
Monopoly is the explicit right given to business or entrepreneurship by the government to operate as the only entity in the economy
wilflay
what is economic system ?
wilflay
economical matter solve this system is know as economic system
what
indifference curve is a diagram that shows the combination of only 2 commodities in such a way that each point on the indifference curve gives the same level of satisfaction
The
all consumer is equal consumtion as definite all ..that type curve is indifference curve
what
what is variable?
Rajeev
economic structure of any area is ,city or country is called economic system
Jairam
what is the difference between rational and irrational choice
Amina
help
Amina
Rational choice theory is an economic principle that assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the highest amount of personal utility. ... Most mainstream academic assumptions and theories are based on rational choice theory.
Anas
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency.
Anas
help
Mensah
The meaning of inverse
Mensah
?
Anas
inverse what ? inverse means opposite .. like if ones going down other goes up so inverse relationship
MansoorAfghan
Definition of Inversely Related: Two variables are inversely related when an increase in one variable causes a reduction in the other variable. For example, when the price of a good increases, its quantity demanded decreases.
Anas
what is opotunity cost
salam
is an alternative forgone after the best choice have been selected.for example when you have cocacola and pepsi and you choose cocacola oportunity cost will be pepsi
Amin
explain the meaning of price cealing and price floor..?
Amin
Opportunity cost is the cost express in terms of forgone, alternatives after a choice have been made.
cyril
A price ceiling is the maximum price a seller can legally charge a buyer for a good or service. Consumers must not pay a price above the pries ceiling
Ntui
A price floor is that is imposed to protect consumers it can not be above the equilibrium price. It's the lowest price that producers must accept from a sales
Ntui
A price ceiling is a price control mechanism issued by the government to protect the consumers from high-priced commodities. It goes to set the highest amount a seller can charge per unit quantity of his product. N.B: This price mechanism isn't binding if equilibrium exists.
harmony
A price floor is a price control mechanism that seeks to protect the sellers by setting the lowest amount a seller can receive for his products. In this case, a seller will not sell his products for any amount less than the price floor amount.
harmony
It is argued that under optimization, since there is the second-order sufficient condition, the first-order condition is not necessary. Discuss.
John Reply
It is argued that in optimization the first part of second order condition appears opposite to their interpretation. Explain why you think otherwise.
John
Would you expect the kinked demand curve to be more extreme (like a right angle) or less extreme (like a normal demand curve) if each firm in the cartel produces a near-identical product like OPEC and petroleum? What if each firm produces a somewhat different product? Explain your reasoning.
Shauna Reply
we need to understand the things that manufacturer industies need to overcome the change of price, including all the all factors
Franck
hi
Jale
I expect the demand curve of such a case to be less extreme almost a horizobtal line.
tesfie
hi
Hashim
Hi
Prajwal
hi to
Sarparah
hello
Kaba
What is substitutional effect?
Nathan Reply
how can a manufacturer of consumers durable seek to respond to environmental change as rapidly as possible
Franck Reply
what are resources?
Kamboyi

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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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