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Economics: Inflation, Deflation, Stagflation, etc


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About this Lesson

  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 4:54
  • Media: Video/mp4
  • Use: Watch Online & Download
  • Access Period: Unrestricted
  • Download: MP4 (iPod compatible)
  • Size: 52 MB
  • Posted: 03/29/2010

This lesson is part of the following series:

Economics: Full Course (269 lessons, $198.00)
Economics: Fluctuations: Unemployment & Inflation (18 lessons, $22.77)
Economics: Inflation (6 lessons, $9.90)

In this video lesson on economics, we will cover the phenomena of Inflation, Deflation, Stagflation, and Hyperinflation. Taught by Professor Tomlinson, this lesson was selected from a broader, comprehensive course, Economics. This course and others are available from Thinkwell, Inc. The full course can be found at The full course covers economic thinking, markets, consumer choice, household behavior, production, costs, perfect competition, market models, resource markets, market failures, market outcomes, macroeconomics, macroeconomic measurements, economic fluctuations, unemployment, inflation, the aggregate expenditures model, banking, spending, saving, investing, aggregate demand and aggregate supply model, monetary policy, fiscal policy, productivity and growth, and international examples.

Steven Tomlinson teaches economics at the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas. He graduated with highest honors from the University of Oklahoma and earned a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University. Prof. Tomlinson's academic awards include the prestigious Texas Excellence Teaching Award given by the University of Texas Alumni Association and being named "Outstanding Core Faculty in the MBA Program" several times. He has developed several instructional guides and computerized educational programs for economics.

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When I was a kid, we would go to the grocery store and buy a bag of groceries for about $20. Nowadays, I go to the grocery store and buy the same stuff for $60. Prices have risen generally across the economy. That's what we mean by inflation.
When prices rise, the value of the dollar shrinks. Inflation means a reduction in purchasing power. Let's look in this lesson at the different forms inflation can take and get ready to consider the question of the relationship between inflation and performance in an economy.
In general, inflation means an increase in the price level, a change from one year to the next of the overall level of prices in an economy. If we look at the inflation rate from 1970 to the present, we will see that the inflation rate has averaged about 6% over this period. There have been some notable highs. In 1980, we had inflation rates of 13%, 14%, whereas since 1990, the inflation rate has averaged about 3.5%. Inflation rates around the year 1999 reached levels that they hadn't seen since the 1960s.
The reverse of inflation is deflation, when prices in an economy are generally falling. This is very rare and much more dangerous for an economy. In the United States, we had a period of deflation in the 1890s. During that recession, prices fell at a rate of about 23% a year. Also during the Great Depression, we had deflation at an annual rate of about 14% along with a severe recession. In Japan, there has been deflation during the 1990s and four long painful recessions. Deflation is dangerous because of the psychology of falling prices. When you see prices falling, you ask yourself: Why buy today when everything is going to be cheaper tomorrow? But when people are not spending money, then stuff piles up on the shelves at the store and merchants lower prices in hopes of moving their goods and services. It becomes a vicious spiral. Deflation tends to cripple an economy.
Another troubling possibility is stagflation, a combination of inflation and economic stagnation, often resulting from supply shocks. Such has occurred in the U.S. economy in 1974 and again around 1980 when the price of oil rose rapidly and dramatically. In these cases, we got the combination of reduction and economic output and higher prices. In 1974, output fell by about 6/10^th^s of 1%. At the same time, prices were rising at 11% annually. In 1980, we had output falling by 3/10^th^s of 1% at the same time that the inflation rate was about 13.5%.
The final possibility to consider is hyperinflation, an extraordinarily rapid increase in prices. Hyperinflation is very rare, and when it happens, it makes the headlines. Hyperinflation is typically a result of a government rapidly printing money to cover debts or deal with some other economic crisis. In a recent example, in 1985, the Wall Street Journal reported that the rate of price increase in Bolivia over one 6-month period was almost 38,000%. Imagine now that you went to the vending machine to buy a soda in January and paid $1. When you went back in June to buy the same soda in this hyper-inflationary environment, you were paying $381. That's what hyperinflation does. In extraordinary cases, such as Germany after World War I, people would sit down in a restaurant to order lunch, and by the time their food arrived the prices had all changed on the menu. People would revert from trading in money to trading in actual real goods and services, that is bartering, in order to avoid carrying around money that would rapidly lose value. Hyperinflation is dangerous for an economy because it tends to lead people not to use money at all and revert to barter in order to protect their purchasing power.
Inflation, deflation, stagflation and hyperinflation--four variants on the same theme, that prices can do crazy things, rising rapidly, falling, rising when output is dropping, or occasionally spiraling out of control. We are now ready to consider how inflation can affect broader performance in an economy, how it affects unemployment, how it affects output, and how it affects savings.
Economic Fluctuations: Unemployment and Inflation
Inflation, Deflation, Stagflation, and Hyperinflation Page [1 of 1]

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