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Unformatted text preview: Inflation and deflation
What is inflation? Inflation is a sustained rise in the price level. This means that, on average,
the prices of products in an economy are going up over time. As the price level rises each pound
buys fewer products. This means the value or purchasing power of money falls.
What is deflation? Deflation refers to a sustained decrease in the price level. Purchasing power
increases and households can buy more products with their income
How is inflation measured? Inflation is usually reported as the percentage change in the price
level, over the last 12 months. Economist talk about the annual rate of inflation
Define the inflation rate. The percentage change in the price level over a given period of time.
What is inflationary pressure? Upward forces on the price level from cost push or demand
pull inflation factors. Firms may opt to hold or raise prices to maintain margins
How is the annual rate of inflation measured? The annual rate of inflation is found by
calculating the percentage change in a given price index eg the CPI, over the last 12 months
Define the price level. The average of the prices of all products in the economy
How is the price level measured? The price level is reported as an index value eg 103.
What is an index? An index measures the weighted average of a group of items compared to its
base year value of 100.
What is a price index? A price index measures the price level of a weighted basket (group) of
products. The index value of 100 in the base (first) year is the benchmark against which to
measure subsequent changes. Eg a rise in the index in year 2 to 105, means a 5% rise in general
prices. The annual rate of inflation is five per cent.
List main UK price indices. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the Retail Price Index (RPI)
How are indexes like Consumer Prices Index (CPI) constructed? A base year is chosen during which prices were relatively stable eg 2005
The ONS conduct a Living Costs and Food Survey to identify a representative basket of
consumer goods and services bought by a 'typical' household.
Each item in the shopping basket is weighted to reflect its relative importance to a
household. Eg food has higher weighting than transport.
Each month, the ONS observes prices of products in the basket in a range of UK shops.
Survey results are fed into a computer that calculates an CPI value for that month.
The initial value of the CPI in the base year is 100. A rise in from 110 to 112 means an
increase in the price level as measured by the CPI What is the difference between the CPI and RPI? The CPI excludes housing costs such council
tax & mortgage interest payments, included in the RPI. RPI inflation generally exceeds the CPI's.
Is a price index reliable indicator of all prices? An index is an average, ie, the one number
which best describes an event. Different households have a different experience of inflation as: Different regions may face different rates of inflation.
Different households have different tastes. Can one basket of goods represent all
households spending patterns, eg that of pensioners and a young family?
Given different consumption patterns, can one set of weightings represent all social
groupings? Do pensioners and young families place equal weight on nappies?
New or improved products and may not be captured in the current index
It is perfectly possible for essential items such as food to rise in price while less essential
items such as plasma TVs fall. On average, the price of most items is rising. Identify the economic costs of inflation. A sustained increase in the price level results in
22 Inflation and deflation | Menu costs: re-pricing cost to firms eg
changing price lists and displays or printing
new catalogues Shoe leather costs: eg making additional trips
to the bank to put cash into interest bearing
accounts Income may be redistributed eg creditors lose
if the interest charged does not compensate
for inflation Inflation generating inflation eg firms raise
prices and staff demand higher wages
anticipating inflation Inflationary noise: economic agents are
unsure if a price rise is due to inflation or an
rise in the relative price of a product eg a car Fiscal drag: rising incomes draw workers into
higher fixed tax brackets causing a higher
proportion of income to be paid in tax Uncertainty about future prices increases risk
and so discourages investment. Lost international competitiveness if domestic
inflation rates exceed rivals List potential benefits of inflation. Low stable rates from demand pull inflation may encourage firms to increase output.
Firms can use inflation to adjust real wages. Staff may resist nominal wage cuts but
accept a wage increase below the rate of inflation What determines the impact of inflation? The overall effects of inflation depend on its: Rate: a 1% annual inflation rate doubles prices every 72 years. A 10% inflation rate
doubles the price level every 7.2 years.
Duration: the longer inflation lasts, the greater its impact
Trend : accelerating or fluctuating inflation is a bigger threat than stable inflation rates.
Relative international rate. If UK inflation rates are higher than our trading partners,
price competitiveness is lost. Imports are encouraged; exports are discouraged. Distinguish between anticipated and unanticipated inflation. Anticipated inflation is the
expected rate of inflation for the near future. Economic agents take account of anticipated
inflation in decisions eg wage demands. Unanticipated inflation is unexpected inflation.
Economic agents misjudge future inflation rates creating uncertainty and economic instability.
What causes inflation? There are two main explanations: cost push and demand pull inflation
Cost push inflation Demand Pull inflation Cost push inflation is caused rising input prices eg
energy costs. Firms raise prices to protect profit
margins, shifting the AS curve to the left. The price
level rises to P2 Demand pull inflation results from increases in
aggregate demand unaccompanied by an increase in
aggregate supply, shifting AD to the right. The price
level rises to P2 List potential sources of cost push inflation. An increase in wage rates, import prices or
prices of raw materials, fuel, energy and components used in production
Distinguish between first round and second round effects. | Inflation and deflation 23 first round effect: the direct immediate impact of a change. Eg The first round effect of
higher oil prices are raised costs for firms and higher petrol prices for consumers
second round effect: the indirect long term consequences of a change. Eg firms may opt
to pass on higher costs to consumers by raising prices; workers demand wage increases Do higher input prices always lead to cost push inflation? Firms may opt to absorb cost
increases and accept lower profit margins if a recession means demand is weak, limiting the
second round effects of higher input prices
Is deflation a problem? Impact depends upon rate, duration and if deflation is anticipated. One-off falls in prices increase purchasing power stimulating consumption, and AD.
Falling asset prices (eg houses & equities) reduce personal sector wealth. Households
may increase savings in attempt to restore previous wealth levels
Sustained price falls can set off a deflationary spiral. Consumers postpone purchases in
anticipation of further price falls. Firms then cut prices in the hope of stimulating sales. Unemployment
Define unemployment. Individuals willing and
able to work but unable to find a paying job.
What is the working age population? The
working age population are those aged 16 to 64
Define the labour force. The labour force is the
total number of people employed and those
registered as unemployed.
Labour force = number of employed + number of
What is economic inactivity? The economically inactive are those not seeking a job through
early retirement, being carers, long-term sickness or in full-time study.
Explain the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force
unemployed and is found by the formula total unemployed/ number in the labour force x 100.
Define the employment rate. The percentage of the labour force who are currently employed
How is the level of unemployment measured? There are two main measures: Claimant count: the total of all those claiming unemployment benefit
Labour Force Survey (LFS): all those who have looked for work in the past month and are
able to start employment in the next two weeks. An internationally used measure Is the claimant count method reliable? This method is quick and inexpensive but understates
the ‘true’ level of unemployment because those interested in finding work but who do meet all
of the criteria for claiming Job Seeker's Allowance are excluded
Is the Labour Force Survey method reliable? The LFS is an internationally used broader, if
slower and more expensive, method of measuring unemployment. Discouraged workers who
want a job but have given up looking are excluded from the LFS measure of unemployment.
What are the consequences of unemployment? Productive inefficiency through lost output (opportunity cost)
Lost government tax revenue and increased expenditure on unemployment benefits
Some jobless, particularly the young and skilled, may emigrate reducing potential GDP
Trading partners experience reduced demand for their exports
Poverty and social exclusion can lead to alienation, external costs that affect society.
24 Unemployment | ...
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- Spring '11