Inflation vs Deflation: Understand The Difference

4 mins read

An Overview of Inflation vs. Deflation

When the price of goods and services rises, inflation happens; when the price of goods and services falls, deflation occurs. The delicate balance between these two economic circumstances, which are opposing sides of the same coin, is difficult to maintain, and an economy may swiftly shift from one to the other.

Central banks maintain a close watch on price movements and use monetary policy tools like interest rate setting to combat deflation or inflation.


Inflation is a measurement of how rapidly the price of products in a given economy rises. Inflation occurs when products and services are in high demand, resulting in a decrease in supply. Supplies may be depleted for a variety of reasons: a natural catastrophe can destroy a food crop, a housing boom might deplete construction materials, and so on. Consumers are prepared to pay more for the things they desire for any reason, forcing manufacturers and service providers to raise their prices.

The rate of rising in the consumer price index is the most popular indicator of inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a hypothetical basket of products that includes consumer goods and services, medical care, and transportation expenditures. The government keeps track of the prices of the commodities and services in the basket to determine the dollar’s buying power.

Inflation is generally seen as a major danger, particularly by those who grew up in the late 1970s, when inflation was rampant. When monthly prices rise by more than 50% in a given period of time, this is referred to as hyperinflation. Rapid price rises are often accompanied by a breakdown in the underlying real economy, as well as an increase in the money supply.

While hyperinflations are frightening, they are historically uncommon. In fact, depending on the causes and amount of inflation, inflation may be either positive or detrimental. In fact, as we shall see later with deflation, a total absence of inflation may be detrimental to the economy.


When there are too many things available or not enough money circulating to acquire those items, deflation develops. As a consequence, products and services become less expensive.

For example, if a certain style of the automobile becomes really popular, other manufacturers will begin to produce a vehicle that is identical in order to compete. Car firms will soon have more of that vehicle model than they can sell, forcing them to lower the price in order to sell the automobiles. When a company has too much inventory, it must decrease expenditures, which often results in layoffs. Unemployed people do not have enough money to buy things, therefore prices are reduced to entice them to buy, which perpetuates the cycle.

When credit providers notice a drop in costs, they often restrict the quantity of credit available. This causes a credit constraint, as customers are unable to get loans to buy large-ticket things, leaving businesses with excess inventory and more deflation. Deflationary eras may stifle economic development and raise unemployment.

Uncontrolled price decreases, like out-of-control hyperinflation, may lead to a harmful deflationary cycle. This situation emerges when economic output slows and demand for investment and consumption dries up during an economic crisis, such as a recession or depression. As manufacturers are compelled to dispose of inventory that buyers no longer wish to purchase, this might lead to a general decrease in asset values.

Consumers and companies alike seek to hoard liquid cash reserves in order to protect themselves from future financial loss. As more money is saved, less money is spent, lowering aggregate demand even more. People’s expectations for future inflation are likewise decreased at this time, and they begin to hoard money. When consumers may fairly anticipate their money to have greater buying power tomorrow, they have less motivation to spend money now.

Wrapping Up

The majority of the world’s central banks aim for mild inflation rates of roughly 2%–3% per year. Inflationary pressures may be harmful to an economy because they lead prices to grow too rapidly, sometimes outpacing wage increases. Deflation, on the other hand, may be negative for an economy because individuals hoard cash instead of spending or investing in the assumption that prices will fall even more.