In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a loss of real value in the internal medium of exchange and unit of account in the economy. A chief measure of price inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index (normally the" $new_link) "over time.
Inflation's effects on an economy are various and can be simultaneously positive and negative. Negative effects of inflation include an increase in the opportunity cost of holding money, uncertainty over future inflation which may discourage investment and savings, and if inflation is rapid enough, shortages of goods as consumers begin hoarding out of concern that prices will increase in the future. Positive effects include ensuring that central banks can adjust real interest rates (intended to mitigate recessions), and encouraging investment in non-monetary capital projects.
Economists generally agree that high rates of inflation and hyperinflation are caused by an excessive growth of the money supply. Views on which factors determine low to moderate rates of inflation are more varied. Low or moderate inflation may be attributed to fluctuations in real demand for goods and services, or changes in available supplies such as during scarcities, as well as to growth in the money supply. However, the consensus view is that a long sustained period of inflation is caused by money supply growing faster than the rate of economic growth.
Today, most economists favor a low and steady rate of inflation. Low (as opposed to zero or negative) inflation reduces the severity of economic recessions by enabling the labor market to adjust more quickly in a downturn, and reduces the risk that a liquidity trap prevents monetary policy from stabilizing the economy. The task of keeping the rate of inflation low and stable is usually given to monetary authorities. Generally, these monetary authorities are the central banks that control monetary policy through the setting of interest rates, through open market operations, and through the setting of banking reserve requirements.
Famous quotes containing the words money supply, inflation, money and/or supply:
“Imagine believing in the control of inflation by curbing the money supply! That is like deciding to stop your dog fouling the sidewalk by plugging up its rear end. It is highly unlikely to succeed, but if it does it kills the hound.”
—Michael D. Stephens. On Sinai, Theres No Economics, New York Times (Nov. 13, 1981)
“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”
—Ernest Hemingway (18991961)
“Most idealistic people are skint. I have discovered that people with money have no imagination, and people with imagination have no money.”
—Captain Rainbow [George Weiss] (b. 1940)
“The job of the press is to encourage debate, not to supply the public with information.”
—Christopher Lasch (b. 1932)