Types of Inflation
This article briefly explains different types of inflation in economics with examples, wherever necessary. It is also supplemented with a hierarchical diagram to help readers summarize and quickly assimilate their list.
Here are different types of inflation depicted and listed below.
Image credits © Gaurav Akrani.
Following is its list:
- Coverage or scope :
- Comprehensive or Economy Wide inflation and
- Sporadic inflation.
- Time of occurrence :
- War-Time inflation,
- Post-War inflation and
- Peace-Time inflation.
- Government's reaction or control :
- Open inflation and
- Suppressed or Repressed inflation.
- Rising prices :
- Creeping, Mild or Low inflation,
- Chronic or Secular inflation,
- Walking inflation,
- Moderate inflation,
- Running inflation,
- Galloping or Jumping inflation and
- Different causes :
- Deficit inflation,
- Credit inflation,
- Scarcity inflation,
- Profit inflation,
- Pricing Power, Administered Price or Oligopolistic inflation,
- Tax inflation,
- Wage inflation,
- Build-in inflation,
- Development inflation,
- Fiscal inflation,
- Population inflation,
- Foreign Trade Induced inflation :
- Export-Boom inflation and
- Import Price-Hike inflation.
- Export-Boom inflation,
- Import Price-Hike inflation,
- Sectoral inflation,
- Demand-Pull or Excess Demand inflation and
- Cost-Push (Supply-side) inflation.
- Expectation or predictability :
- Anticipated or Expected inflation and
- Unanticipated or Unexpected inflation.
Now let's discuss each inflation type one by one.
The types of inflation on basis of coverage or scope:
- Comprehensive Inflation : When the prices of all commodities rise throughout the economy it is known as Comprehensive Inflation. Another name for comprehensive inflation is Economy Wide Inflation.
- Sporadic Inflation : When prices of only a few commodities in a few regions (areas) rise, it is known as Sporadic Inflation. It is sectional in nature. For example, a rise in food prices due to bad monsoon (winds bringing seasonal rains in India).
The types of inflation on basis of time or period of occurrence:
- War-Time Inflation : Inflation that takes place during the period of a warlike situation is known as Wartime inflation. During a war, scare productive resources are all diverted and prioritized to produce military goods and equipments. This overall result in very limited supply or extreme shortage (low availability) of resources (raw materials) to produce essential commodities. Production and supply of basic goods slow down and can no longer meet the soaring demand from people. Consequently, prices of essential goods keep on rising in the market, resulting in Wartime Inflation.
- Post-War Inflation : Inflation that takes place soon after a war is known as Post-War Inflation. After the war, government controls are relaxed, resulting in a faster hike in prices than what experienced during the war.
- Peace-Time Inflation : When prices rise during a normal period of peace, it is known as Peacetime Inflation. It is due to huge government expenditure or spending on capital projects of a long gestation (development) period.
The types of inflation on basis of government's reaction or degree of control:
- Open Inflation : When government does not attempt to restrict inflation, it is known as Open Inflation. In a free market economy, where prices are allowed to take its own course, open inflation occurs.
- Suppressed Inflation : When government prevents the price rise through price controls, rationing, etc., it is known as Suppressed Inflation. It is also referred as Repressed Inflation. However, when government controls are removed, Suppressed inflation becomes Open Inflation. Suppressed Inflation leads to corruption, black marketing, artificial scarcity, etc.
The types of inflation on basis of rising prices or rate of inflation:
- Creeping Inflation : When prices are gently rising, it is referred as Creeping Inflation. It is the mildest form of inflation and also known as a Mild Inflation or Low Inflation. According to R.P. Kent, when prices rise by not more than (i.e. Upto) 3% per annum (year), it is called Creeping Inflation.
- Chronic Inflation : If creeping inflation persist (continues to increase) for a longer period of time then it is often called as Chronic or Secular Inflation. Chronic Creeping Inflation can be either Continuous (which remains consistent without any downward movement) or Intermittent (which occurs at regular intervals). It is called chronic because if an inflation rate continues to grow for a longer period without any downturn, then it possibly leads to Hyperinflation.
- Walking Inflation : When the rate of rising prices is more than the Creeping Inflation, it is known as Walking Inflation. When prices rise by more than 3% but less than 10% per annum (i.e between 3% and 10% per annum), it is called as Walking Inflation. According to some economists, walking inflation must be taken seriously as it gives a cautionary signal for the occurrence of Running inflation. Furthermore, if walking inflation is not checked in due time it can eventually result in Galloping inflation.
- Moderate Inflation : Prof. Samuelson clubbed together concept of Crepping and Walking inflation into Moderate Inflation. When prices rise by less than 10% per annum (single digit inflation rate), it is known as Moderate Inflation. According to Prof. Samuelson, it is a stable inflation and not a serious economic problem.
- Running Inflation : A rapid acceleration in the rate of rising prices is referred as Running Inflation. When prices rise by more than 10% per annum, running inflation occurs. Though economists have not suggested a fixed range for measuring running inflation, we may consider price rise between 10% to 20% per annum (double digit inflation rate) as a running inflation.
- Galloping Inflation : According to Prof. Samuelson, if prices rise by double or triple digit inflation rates like 30% or 400% or 999% per annum, then the situation can be termed as Galloping Inflation. When prices rise by more than 20% but less than 1000% per annum (i.e. Between 20% to 1000% per annum), galloping inflation occurs. It is also referred as Jumping inflation. India has been witnessing galloping inflation form second five year plan period.
- Hyperinflation : Hyperinflation refers to a situation where the prices rise at an alarming high rate. The prices rise so fast that it becomes very difficult to measure its magnitude. However, in quantitative terms, when prices rise above 1000% per annum (quadruple or four digit inflation rate), it is termed as Hyperinflation. During a worst case scenario of hyperinflation, the value of the national currency (money) of an affected country reduces almost to zero. Paper money becomes worthless and people start trading either in gold and silver or sometimes even use the old barter system of commerce. Two worst examples of hyperinflation recorded in the world history are of those experienced by Hungary in year 1946 and Zimbabwe during 2004-2009 under Robert Mugabe's regime.
The types of inflation on basis of different causes:
- Deficit Inflation : Deficit inflation takes place due to deficit financing.
- Credit Inflation : Credit inflation takes place due to excessive bank credit or the money supply in the economy.
- Scarcity Inflation : Scarcity inflation occurs due to hoarding. Hoarding is an excess accumulation of basic commodities by unscrupulous traders and black marketers. It is practiced to create an artificial shortage of essential goods like food grains, kerosene, etc. With an intention to sell them only at higher prices to make huge profits during scarcity inflation. Though hoarding is an unfair trade practice and a punishable criminal offense still some crooked merchants often get themselves engaged in it.
- Profit Inflation : When entrepreneurs are interested in boosting their profit margins, prices rise.
- Pricing Power Inflation : It is often referred as Administered Price inflation. It occurs when industries and business houses increase the price of their goods and services with an objective to boost their profit margins. It does not occur during a financial crisis and economic depression, and is not seen when there is a downturn in the economy. As Oligopolies have the ability to set prices of their goods and services it is also called as Oligopolistic Inflation.
- Tax Inflation : Due to rise in indirect taxes, sellers charge high price to the consumers.
- Wage Inflation : If the rise in wages in not accompanied by a rise in output, prices rise.
- Build-In Inflation : Vicious cycle of Build-in inflation is induced by adaptive expectations of workers or employees who try to keep their wages or salaries high in anticipation of inflation. Employers and Organizations raise the prices of their respective goods and services in anticipation of the workers or employees' demands. This overall build a vicious cycle of rising wages followed by an increase in general prices of commodities. This cycle, if continues, keeps on accumulating inflation at each round turn and thereby results in what is called as Build-in inflation.
- Development Inflation : During the process of development of economy, income increases, causing an increase in demand and rise in prices.
- Fiscal Inflation : It occurs due to excess government expenditure or spending when there is a budget deficit.
- Population Inflation : Prices rise due to a rapid increase in population.
- Foreign Trade Induced Inflation : It is divided into two categories, viz., (a) Export-Boom Inflation, and (b) Import Price-Hike Inflation.
- Export-Boom Inflation : Considerable increase in exports may cause a shortage at home (within exporting country) and results in price rise (within exporting country). This is known as Export-Boom Inflation.
- Import Price-Hike Inflation : If a country imports goods from a foreign country, and the prices of imported goods increases due to inflation abroad, then the prices of domestic products using imported goods also rise. This is known as Import Price-Hike Inflation. For e.g. India imports oil from Iran at $100 per barrel. Oil prices in the international market suddenly increase to $150 per barrel. Now India to continue its oil imports from Iran has to pay $50 more per barrel to get the same amount of crude oil. When the imported expensive oil reaches India, the Indian consumers also have to pay more and bear the economic burden. Manufacturing and transportation costs also increase due to hike in oil prices. This, consequently, results in a rise in the prices of domestic goods being manufactured and transported. It is the end-consumer in India, who finally pays and experiences the ultimate pinch of Import Price-Hike Inflation. If the oil prices in the international market fall down, then the import price-hike inflation also slows down, and vice-versa.
- Sectoral Inflation : It occurs when there is a rise in the prices of goods and services produced by certain sectors of the industries. For instance, if prices of crude oil increases, then it will also affect all other sectors (like aviation, road transportation, etc.) which are directly related to the oil industry. For e.g. If oil prices are hiked, air ticket fares and road transportation cost will increase.
- Demand-Pull Inflation : Inflation, which arises due to various factors like rising income, exploding population, etc., leads to aggregate demand and exceeds aggregate supply, and tends to raise prices of goods and services. This is known as Demand-Pull or Excess Demand Inflation.
- Cost-Push Inflation : When prices rise due to growing cost of production of goods and services, it is known as Cost-Push (Supply-side) Inflation. For e.g. If the wages of workers are raised, then the unit cost of production also increases. As a result, the prices of end-products or end-services being produced and supplied are consequently hiked.
The types of inflation on basis of expectation or predictability:
- Anticipated Inflation : If the rate of inflation corresponds to what the majority of people are expecting or predicting, then is called Anticipated Inflation. It is also referred as Expected Inflation.
- Unanticipated Inflation : If the rate of inflation corresponds to what the majority of people are not expecting or predicting, then is called Unanticipated Inflation. It is also referred as Unexpected Inflation.