Economics (Year 11)
Costs and Benefits of Inflation
Inflation is the appreciable rise in the general level of prices. This can benefit members of society as their wages and standard of living increase. However, inflation can also have adverse effects on society if price levels of goods and services rise faster than the rate of income levels.
For this reason, there are groups of people that benefit from high levels of inflation:
Holders of assets
There are also groups that suffer from high inflation:
People on fixed wages or pensions
The general level of inflation has effects on the level of output, income and employment as well as the distribution of income and wealth in the economy. The government set target for inflation rates is between 2-3% per year to ensure price stability and consistent growth.
Inflation effects on the level of output, income and employment
Real incomes of consumers will decrease, and in turn, their purchasing power decreases also. This means that households cannot purchase the same amount of goods and services as they were able to before inflated prices rose faster than their income.
The efficiency of the economy decreases as people start to invest in assets that they expect to increase in value with the inflation rates. Examples of these include valuable art, gold or stocks. These goods do not benefit the productivity of the economy, and therefore, efficiency decreases as money isn't invested into the productivity of the economy.
High levels of inflation can result in uncertainty from consumers and firms as their confidence in the economy falls. Their expectations of future prices and their purchasing power may promote savings, and in turn, less investment and spending throughout the economy. Furthermore, the Lack of Confidence from consumers may arise as fears of future prices and aggregate demand increase.
Capital resources replace labour
As the cost of wages increase, businesses will look for cheaper alternatives. Therefore, capital machinery are common substitutes for human labour. This results in a increase in unemployment levels.
Real interest rates
Inflation taken out; real interest rates fall.
If the level of inflation within Australia is higher that the level of inflation in foreign countries, then the demand for our exports will fall. This means that Australia becomes less competitive to overseas competitors.
When inflation gets out of control, it can cause the economy and currency to collapse; people lose confidence in money as a measure of store value.
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