What is inflation?
I believe this is the most important financial question a person can ask. I am constantly on a trek to better understand money and wealth. Here is some of what I’ve learned thus far:
Per its original meaning:
- Inflation is not a rise in prices
- Inflation is a rise in the money supply
I have a 1920 Webster’s dictionary that says inflation is a rise in the money supply. I have a 2006 Webster’s dictionary that says inflation is a rise in consumer prices. From this point forward, I will use “inflation” for its original definition (an increase in the money supply) and I will use “price inflation” to refer to a general increase in prices.
How did this “Newspeak” happen?
Inflation is harmful because it leads to a rise in prices. When everyone’s expenses are rising faster than their incomes as a result of the actions of the government and banking system, it is like a tax on the American people.
With the harm being a rise in prices, the focus on the topic of “inflation” shifted from the cause (inflation) to the effect (rising prices). And so, over a period of decades, everyone (news media included) shifted into speaking about inflation as a rise in prices.
Why don’t inflation and price increases correlate directly anymore?
You can take simple economic examples and draw a direct correlation from increasing the money supply to a rise in prices not complemented by a rise in incomes. These are usually fictional stories of a group of people being stranded on an island and creating their own economy. They will illustrate with great clarity that increasing the money supply takes from the regular person and gives to the banker or his friends (such as the government).
Now apply those concepts to our current economy and you will be so confused, it will be easy to surrender to saying, “Gosh this stuff is for super-geeks to figure out and I’ll just go with whatever is reported to me.” Of course, we’ve learned that following the crowd and getting your information from normal reporting sources is a sure way to [Read more…]