Effects of Inflation

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Inflation is defined as a sustained increase in the general level of prices which results in a decline in the purchasing power of money. Inflation is measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures proportional changes in prices in a representative “basket” of g’n’s, weighted according to their importance in a typical Australian households budget. The RBA aims to keep inflation at an annual rate of 2-3%, and in order to do this a number of policies are available for the Australian government. Keeping Inflation under control is a primary concern for the Australian Government as it affects so many different parts of the Economy, including Economic growth, standard of living and unemployment.

There are three types of inflation, depending on their causes. Firstly, demand pull inflation occurs when there is an excessive aggregate demand at or near full employment. If aggregate demand exceeds aggregate supply, prices of g’n’s rise as a rationing mechanism. This form of inflation is usually associated with periods of high economic activity. Secondly is cost-push inflation. If business costs such as the cost of wages or materials rise, businesses may aim to maintain profit levels by passing these costs onto consumers. This will result in higher prices and therefore inflation. The final type of inflation is imported inflation. Imported inflation occurs when the price of imports rises, and either adds to business costs (resulting in cost-push inflation) or feeds into the CPI as the price of final goods. Furthermore, a depreciation in the Au$ will raise import prices, also adding to imported inflation.

There are a number of factors which may cause inflation in the Australian economy. A major cause of demand-pull inflation is excessive growth in aggregate demand. If aggregate demand increases from AD to AD1, aggregate supply which is the equivalent of real GDP will rise to GDP2 and the price level will rise from P to P2. This results in the inflationary gap of cd. This increase in aggregate demand may be the result of a number of factors, including increases in consumption expenditure, investment spending, net government expenditure, the money supply, or export incomes.

Another major cause of inflation, this time cost-push inflation, is a decrease in aggregate supply. If aggregate supply decreases from AS to AS1, real GDP will decrease to GDP2 and the price level will rise to P1. This results in both a contraction in real GDP and a rise in inflation. The main causes of this decrease in aggregate supply is excessive wage growth not accompanied by productivity increase, a rise in the cost of raw materials, and other inputs, or a rise in government taxes or other charges that raise costs for firms.

Cost-push inflation may also be the result of imported inflation it there is a rise in world prices of imported goods used in the production process (such as raw materials and intermediate goods) firms are likely to pass these costs onto consumers, resulting in inflation on the other hand if there is a rise in world prices of consumer goods, increased import prices will feed directly into the CPI, also resulting in inflation. Furthermore a depreciation in the Au$ in foreign exchange markets will result in a rise in the prices of imported raw materials, intermediate goods, and consumer goods, again contributing to Australia’s inflation. This is demonstrated in the stimulus when the RBA credits the decrease in inflation to the fading impact of 2000s exchange rate depreciation.

A less common cause of inflation is the existence of monopolies or oligopolies. If a monopoly or oligopoly exists in an industry, the lack of competition allows producers to push up prices. This again results in inflation.

The final cause of inflation in Australia is inflationary expectations. Inflationary expectations refer to the behaviour of individuals and businesses who seek to compensate...
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