Is Inflation Harmful

Q. Should the Government be concerned if the CPI rises to 5% ?

The Govt set the MPC a target for CPI of 2% +/-1 therefore it believes inflation higher than 3% is potentially damaging for the economy.

It depends on inflation in other countries. If inflation in the UK is higher than elsewhere then UK goods will become uncompetitive leading to a fall in demand for UK exports.

If there is a fall in demand for Exports then there may be a deficit on the current account Balance of Payments. However this may be offset by a devaluation that is likely to occur

However if inflation is high there will be a devaluation of the exchange rate, This is something the govt wishes to avoid as it creates uncertainty amongst business.

Higher rates of inflation may cause menu costs, which means firms have to change price lists quite often. However this is not that significant when inflation is only 5%.

If inflation is caused by unsustainable economic growth then the boom may be followed by a recession . To keep inflation within target the Bof E will have to increase interest rates, this causes problems because AD will fall causing lower growth.

Higher rates of inflation are disliked by business because it makes it more difficult to predict future costs. Therefore investment will be lower, Countries with lower inflation rates generally have poorer economic growth.

A high rate of inflation would make it more difficult to join the EURO, because it would breach the Maastricht criteria. If inflation in the UK was higher than Europe a single Monetary policy would be ineffective for the UK

If the inflation was world wide caused by an increase in the oil price, it may be necessary to revise the inflation target of 2.5% . The UK would not lose its competitive advantage because every country would have higher inflation. TO reduce inflation would cause stagflation (lower growth and lower prices)

Inflation may cause redistribution of income from savers to borrowers, although this will depend upon the rate of interest. E.g. if interest rate were 8% savers would still have a real interest rate of 3% It depends on whether wages are keeping up with inflation. If wages were only increasing by 4% then real wages would be falling.

Should the govt be concerned with inflation falling below 2%?

If prices are falling because AS shifts to the right because of new technology, this is beneficial for the economy, because growth is increasing and jobs being created

If deflation is cause by falling AD then this is serious economic problem because it indicates a recession with problems such as unemployment, lower output and a negative multiplier effect

Deflation can cause problems for the economy. It means that those who have debts will see the real value of debts increase, this will lead to lower consumer confidence and possibly lower AD and economic growth

Deflation makes monetary policy ineffective. This is because interest rates cannot be reduced below 0%.

Companies cannot alter real wages easily because workers are very resistant to any cut in nominal wage wages.

It is more difficult to set prices when there is deflation

– Richard Pettinger 1/12/2002

Copyright (c) Richard Pettinger


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