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Inflation

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Inflation is an increase in the prices of goods and services in the market. Due to inflation, a soda can that used to cost 50 cents 20 years ago, costs 2 dollars today. Inflation weakens a currency’s performance. The central bank is responsible for controlling inflation through the manipulation of interest rates and the money supply.

What Is Inflation?

Inflation is a rise in prices, which can be translated as the decline of purchasing power over time. The rate at which purchasing power drops can be reflected in the average price increase of a basket of selected goods and services over some period of time. The rise in prices, which is often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods. Inflation can be contrasted with deflation, which occurs when prices decline and purchasing power increases.

Causes of Inflation

An increase in the supply of money is the root of inflation, though this can play out through different mechanisms in the economy. A country’s money supply can be increased by the monetary authorities by:

  • Printing and giving away more money to citizens
  • Legally devaluing (reducing the value of) the legal tender currency
  • Loaning new money into existence as reserve account credits through the banking system by purchasing government bonds from banks on the secondary market (the most common method)

In all of these cases, the money ends up losing its purchasing power. The mechanisms of how this drives inflation can be classified into three types: demand-pull inflation, cost-push inflation, and built-in inflation.