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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 macroeconomics
Dickison Reply
what is macroeconomics
Majid Reply
what is macroeconomic analysis
Deogratius Reply
Macroeconomics is a branch of the economics that studies how the aggregate economy behaves. In macroeconomics, a variety of economy-wide phenomena is thoroughly examined such as inflation, price levels, rate of growth, national income, gross domestic product (GDP) and changes in unemployment Read m
wasay
Macroeconomics is a branch of the economics that studies how the aggregate economy behaves. In macroeconomics, a variety of economy-wide phenomena is thoroughly examined such as inflation, price levels, rate of growth, national income, gross domestic product (GDP) and changes in unemployment
wasay
what is economic
Wajeed Reply
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. 
ninad
what is inflation
Junaid Reply
Inflation is simply a situation in an economy where there is a persistent rise or increase in the prices of goods and services in a particular year(say current year)
JERRY
It can still be defined as a situation in an economy where there's a persistent fall in the value of money
JERRY
it is the persistent rise in the general price of goods and services in an economy leading to the fall in the values of money
Muafue
It could mean the central bank has a deficit in reserve unable to cope with low export and exit of foreign investments.
Wong
what is willingness
Bilal Reply
Is a person Able,Capable and Anxious to something
Muafue
Is when a person is able,capable and Anxious to do something
Muafue
thanks sir g.
Bilal
u are welcome
Muafue
where you from
Bilal
Cameroon
Muafue
And you
Muafue
Pakistan
Bilal
How far are you in Education
Muafue
who about my question What is MPC
sabawoon
is marginal propensity to consume
Muafue
a little more
sabawoon
sorry muafue sir you are little bit wrong about willingness *willingness reffers how much wants . it could be wants for payment or wants for something to do.
Masadaq
MPC reffers *How much want to consume*.
Masadaq
MPC is Marginal Propensity to Consume. MPC is proportion of additional spent on consumption.
Bon
MPC is Marginal Propensity to Consume. MPC is the proportion of additional income spent on consumption.
Bon
What is difference between GNP and GDP?
Zahid
GNP is gross national product. In calculating GNP we include net national income from abroad while GDP is gross domestic product and in calculating it we use on expenditure, income and output from within the country. My name is JERRY NGONDA from Cameron
JERRY
GNP.the total value of good $service currently produce w a given period of time by domestic owner GNP=NFI+GDP:GDP is a market value of final good $service currently produce in a given period of time w in a country boundery or territors.its take produce currently $etc
tade
yes.no suggestions
tade
good Tade Feyera
Masadaq
Tade Feyera can you send me your whatsap contact number.
Masadaq
when spending by the federal government exceeds net taxes?
stefany Reply
unemployed means people are not in the labor force, who have no job, are actively looking for job, they might be return to workforce.
tiffany Reply
the number of unemployed worker out of total number of people in workforce times 100
tiffany
Explain the necessity of studying macroeconomics.
mrinmoyee Reply
how is DDP calculated
sheikh Reply
the question is not understood
Muafue
when demand curve change
Manoj Reply
Due to unemployment rate change for example
amr
Due to external environments change
amr
Due to increase country GDP and 8ncome
amr
Due to tax rate change
amr
substitution effects government policy change in incomes
Alhassan
thanxx
Manoj
curve of demand which type?
Manoj
what is the diagram of demand curve
Manoj
when demand curve is change
Manoj Reply
Due to many reasons
amr
which type reason
Manoj
what is Economic
Tech Reply
What.. You say
TRAVELLING
what u mean by liquidity trap
Athirai Reply
define double counting
Athirai
What is the Cobb-Douglas production function about?
Dorothy Reply
The Cobb Douglas production function is a particular functional form of production,widely used to represent the technological relationship between the amount of two or more inputs and the amount of outputs that can be produced by those inputs.
Muafue
how do produce
Mohit
for whom to produce
Mohit

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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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