Inflation Meaning, Consequences, Potential Causes, and Who should be Worried?

Inflation: A Brief Overview

A rise in the cost of the products and services that households purchase is referred to as inflation. The Inflation meaning is derived when it is calculated as the pace at which such prices change. Prices often increase over time, but they can also decrease (a situation called deflation).

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which calculates the percentage change in the cost of a selection of products and services that households use, is the most well-known measure of inflation, which also helps in defining the inflation meaning.

Currently, Inflation has been drastically sloping upward! The Labor Department revealed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to its highest level since November 1981 in June, shattering hopes that inflation was beginning to level out. The CPI increased by 9.1% in the month, up from 8.6% in May, above the economists' forecast of 8.8%. The CPI increased 1.3 percent from May to June on a monthly basis, exceeding forecasts for a 1.1 percent increase.

The headline, “The June CPI statistics”, seemed to refute the claim that U.S. inflation may have peaked. A glimmer of light existed, though, in the core CPI statistics for June, which increased by 5.9 percent while remaining below the recent high of 6.5 percent in March.


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What consequences does Inflation have?

As goods and services become more expensive, a currency unit loses some of its purchasing power. This affects a nation's cost of living as well. High levels of inflation result in rising living expenses, which eventually slow down economic growth. The economy needs a certain amount of inflation to encourage spending and discourage holding onto money through savings.

People should invest their money because it typically loses value over time! Investments guarantee a nation's economic expansion.

What potential causes could be there for Inflation?

There has been much discussion and disagreement on the primary drivers of inflation in India. Some of the main causes of the price increase include:

  • A demand-supply gap, which is caused by high demand and low production or supply of certain goods, raised prices
  • Money loses its purchasing power when it is circulated too widely, which causes inflation
  • People tend to spend more when they have more money, which increases demand.

Take heed of the following points as well:

  • Increases in production costs for some commodities also contribute to inflation by raising the cost of the finished good. Cost-push is also talked about during the inflation meaning discourse
  • As the labor engages, they also expect and demand greater costs/wages to maintain their standard of living! The increase in the pricing of products and services is another element to consider. This causes a further rise in product pricing.

Is everyone affected by Inflation?

Everyone's perception of inflation's meaning varies depending on the kind of assets they own. Inflation means that the value of someone's investments in real estate or stockpiled commodities will increase. Cash holders may experience negative effects from inflation as the value of their cash decreases.

Who should worry about Inflation and who should not?

Should you be concerned about the price increase? Perhaps worries about inflation are exaggerated? How can you set yourself up for financial success despite price increases?

Paychecks are being squeezed by the sudden spike in inflation that has occurred over the past four months, and people are generally feeling down. According to recent reports, it is also doing its part to undermine consumer confidence and economic recovery.

The August reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was the lowest in a decade and even fell below the figure from the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. In the meantime, July saw a 1.3 percent decline in U.S. retail sales, particularly for pricey items like cars.

Higher inflation, according to the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve, shows that the economy is recovering and should shortly slow down. When you are experiencing heated inflation, however, it makes you sweat; just take a quick look at the alleged Misery Index.

Let us examine who should be concerned about growing inflation, who should not, and what you can do to deal with the ascent in costs.

  • Employees:

    You would expect that employees would feel much better about their futures. After all, companies added 938,000 more employees on their payrolls in June than they did in July. Workers have been abandoning their jobs in large numbers, showing optimism that they would be able to find better employment elsewhere, and hourly earnings have increased by about 4% over a year.

    But you would be mistaken if you ignored the effects of inflation. According to the most recent report on inflation, prices rose 5.4 percent year over year in July. Wages also rose, but not by enough to keep up with inflation. Earnings after adjusting for inflation fell by more than 1% in July.

    The Covid economic recovery prognosis always included a period of rising prices. In order to reset inflation expectations, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated last year that he wanted prices to rise beyond the bank's 2 percent target for a brief period.

    Prices in May 2021 would unavoidably be higher than in May 2020, when the economy was largely shut down. The lack of specific products might increase costs due to supply chain failures. Fed officials predicted that any period of high inflation would be temporary after realizing this.

    However, temporary has changed into the most of 2021. Those most dependent on earned income, rather than assets like stocks or real estate, are the ones facing the brunt of this challenging time.

    What about people with fixed incomes? They must also be in danger if prices increase, right? Yes, but probably not to the extent you might expect.

  • Retired people should be a bit concerned:

    According to a recent Allianz poll, individuals who are still employed are more concerned about inflation than those who are retired. The undervaluation of Social Security may be a contributing factor in some of those.

    Most of the Americans' wealth comes from Social Security benefits, which also have a nice bonus: a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which increases your monthly check as the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), a gauge of inflation, rises.

    That is particularly helpful at this time when reports suggest that the Social Security COLA could rise by 6.2 percent.

    What about taxes? The issue is that, despite increases in benefits, the tax thresholds have not changed in decades and are not even adjusted for inflation.

    Only 8% of families were impacted when Congress started taxing Social Security income in 1983, according to Boston College's data. That percentage is anticipated to reach about 60% by 2030. All of this is to indicate that a higher COLA will lead to more Social Security benefits, which could result in a considerably larger number of beneficiaries paying higher taxes than planned.

  • Investors need not worry about Inflation

    Investors do not exactly favor high inflation, which can harm, among other things, the growth prospects of high-rising tech equities. Remember that increasing prices might lead to higher interest rates, which may make growth stocks less desirable relative to less dangerous substitutes.

    But we are still not there. Numerous market watchers think the Fed is correct when it says the current inflation moment is temporary. For instance, the 10-year breakeven rate, which represents investors' expectations for inflation over the next ten years, is currently only 2.33 percent. Although that is higher than it was prior to the pandemic, it is not alarming.

    Look at how the markets have done: This year, the S&P 500 has increased by more than 17%.

    According to Sam Stovall, the chief investment strategist at independent investment research firm CFRA, "Investors have embraced the rationale that an uptick in inflation is to be expected, as the markets responded favorably to recent data releases showing improvements in [gross domestic product], employment, and the start of the projected moderation in consumer price gains."

    However, certain nerves remain. Retail sales and consumer confidence are both below expectations, and other measures also hint at a hazy picture. For instance, the business activity index published by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve decreased in August for the fourth consecutive month, correlating with the findings of a recent report from the New York Fed.

    However, investors shouldn't make rash decisions. After going through a blink-and-you'll-miss-it recession, the economy is still expanding and will probably do so for a little longer. Interest rates may not start to rise until 2023, since the Fed forecasts GDP growth of 3.3 percent in 2022 and 7% this year, adjusted for inflation.

    And even while consumers are not feeling particularly energized right now, investors are not necessarily in peril.

    James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, recently noted that since 1988, the stock market has performed better when sentiment is negative than when it is more positive. Low levels of consumer confidence indicate the economy still has a substantial amount of room to grow, and stock values will likely increase, once confidence is restored. This is like a huge production gap or a high labor unemployment rate.

    In other words, better times are finally here, at least in the eyes of investors.

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