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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify patterns of inflation for the United States using data from the Consumer Price Index
  • Identify patterns of inflation on an international level

In the last three decades, inflation has been relatively low in the U.S. economy, with the Consumer Price Index typically rising 2% to 4% per year. Looking back over the twentieth century, there have been several periods where inflation caused the price level to rise at double-digit rates, but nothing has come close to hyperinflation.

Historical inflation in the u.s. economy

[link] (a) shows the level of prices in the Consumer Price Index stretching back to 1916. In this case, the base years (when the CPI is defined as 100) are set for the average level of prices that existed from 1982 to 1984. [link] (b) shows the annual percentage changes in the CPI over time, which is the inflation rate.

U.s. price level and inflation rates since 1913

Graph a shows the trends in the U.S. price level from the year 1916 to 2014. In 1916, the graph starts out close to $10, rises to around $20 in 1920, stays around $16 or $17 until 1931, when it jumps to around $15. It gradually increases, with periodic dips, until 2014, when it is around $236.   Graph b shows the trends in U.S. inflation rates from the year 1916 to 2014. In 1916, the graph starts out at 7.7%, jumps to close to 18% in 1917, drops drastically to close to –11% in 1921, goes up and down periodically, until settling to around 1.5% in 2014.
Graph a shows the trends in the U.S. price level from the year 1916 to 2014. In 1916, the graph starts out close to $10, rises to around $20 in 1920, stays around $16 or $17 until 1931, when it jumps to around $15. It gradually increases, with periodic dips, until 2014, when it is around $236. Graph b shows the trends in U.S. inflation rates from the year 1916 to 2014. In 1916, the graph starts out at 7.7%, jumps to close to 18% in 1917, drops drastically to close to –11% in 1921, goes up and down periodically, until settling to around 1.5% in 2014.

The first two waves of inflation are easy to characterize in historical terms: they are right after World War I and World War II. However, there are also two periods of severe negative inflation—called deflation    —in the early decades of the twentieth century: one following the deep recession of 1920–21 and the other during the Great Depression of the 1930s. (Since inflation is a time when the buying power of money in terms of goods and services is reduced, deflation will be a time when the buying power of money in terms of goods and services increases.) For the period from 1900 to about 1960, the major inflations and deflations nearly balanced each other out, so the average annual rate of inflation over these years was only about 1% per year. A third wave of more severe inflation arrived in the 1970s and departed in the early 1980s.

Visit this website to use an inflation calculator and discover how prices have changed in the last 100 years.

Times of recession or depression often seem to be times when the inflation rate is lower, as in the recession of 1920–1921, the Great Depression, the recession of 1980–1982, and the Great Recession in 2008–2009. There were a few months in 2009 that were deflationary, but not at an annual rate. Recessions are typically accompanied by higher levels of unemployment, and the total demand for goods falls, pulling the price level down. Conversely, the rate of inflation often, but not always, seems to start moving up when the economy is growing very strongly, like right after wartime or during the 1960s. The frameworks for macroeconomic analysis, developed in other chapters, will explain why recession often accompanies higher unemployment and lower inflation, while rapid economic growth often brings lower unemployment but higher inflation.

Questions & Answers

What is say's law of marketing?
INGRID Reply
goods once sold can't be returned
Marvin
but thats not true at all goods are returned all the time
Gregory
yah ur right, as a buyer, But in the marketing world, once a good is sold, its sold.
Marvin
thanks @marvin
INGRID
what does this saying in economics means "there is no such thing as a free lunch pls
Saibu Reply
autonomous consumption
Alhassan
consumption that is not related to level of income u hve.. eg consumption of basic necessities.
Ar
autonomous consumption is the consumption when income is zero or expenditure is not vary from income
ABIYOT
what is investment function?
Zahid
what is the relationship between demand and supply?
INGRID
According to ijmb marking guide, Differentiate between capital expenditure and revenue expenditure.
elemi Reply
Sir please provide me notes on :-unemployment-the trade-off between inflation and unemployment
Swikrit Reply
what is income
NAHUM Reply
reward for rendering a sercive the real income is after a taxt y-t = (y)
Alhassan
what are the components of trade?
Michelle Reply
whats is gdp
odell Reply
what is gdp per capita
odell
GDP of state divided by its population: GDP per capita. it is one of the most relevant indicator of prosperity among its citizens.
Dinesh
thanks
odell
which one is more advantageous or accurate to the other between GDP and GNP?
Katheery
Both, GDP measures only the incomes generated within the country, irrespective of ownership. whereas,GNP measures the total income earned by nationals.
Bon
but which one is a better measure
Katheery
what are supernormal profits
Caroline Reply
what are zero economic profits
Caroline
under what circumstances may a firm continue operating even when it is making losses
Caroline
why should government influence location of a firm
Caroline
using an illustration,distinguish between breakeven and shutdown point of a firm
Caroline
supernormal profits are profits beyond the normal profits a firm expects to have after the sale of all goods n services it produced
Katheery
what are the differences between choice and scarcity
Primus Reply
what is the difference between choice and scarcity
Primus
choice means we have many options scarcity means limitation within the same option we chose among choices.
Bijaya
what the d/f production efficeincy and out put efficeincy
ABIYOT
what is money?
Primus Reply
money is the material which used to exchange to buy or sell
ABIYOT
What is the law of large numbers
Nana Reply
Can anybody provide Solow Growth Model?
Sakar Reply
compare and contrast the classical view and the Keynesian view of economic growth
idoko Reply
what are the objective of macroecnomics in shortrun and long run?
Kalpajyoti Reply
hmm to see how things wages and other economic i dicators adjust in short and long run
Amjad
What economic values calculate the rate of inflation?
Prabha
change in cpi
Amjad
Thank you
Prabha
how can i get a scholarship easily
lams
I want to know that as well.
Fabricio
even me that's what I wnt to get easily
Habeeph
just contact the emmbasy of the country that u wish to study for more details
Paul
hmm NVR mind ogah tnx
Habeeph
what is budget constraints
yunusa
'You can't compare apples to oranges' an old adage, yet GDP exactly does that, anyone please to show how?
Marvin Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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