A guide from inflation to stagflation

by Madaline Dunn

The world of economics can sometimes appear inaccessible and confusing; that said, some particular terms are important to understand. Inflation, deflation, hyperinflation and stagflation all affect the cost of living, impacting the price of food, transport and electricity, as well as savings accounts and investments.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through:

  • What inflation and deflation mean
  • What stagflation means
  • Examples of hyperinflation through the ages
  • How to guard yourself against the impacts of inflation

What are inflation and deflation?

Inflation can be defined as the rate at which prices rise and generally applies to goods and services. It can increase depending on various factors, including an increase in production cost or a surge in demand for a product. Each month the Office of National Statistics (ONS) releases its measure of inflation through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

An example of how inflation works is as follows: If an avocado costs £1 initially and the following year its price increases to £1.03, this means inflation has increased its price by 3%.

Britain’s inflation rate recently jumped to 2.5%, up from 2.1% in June 2021, which is the highest in nearly three years. Unfortunately, the Bank of England expects that it could reach 3% by the end of the year.

Deflation, meanwhile, refers to when the rate of inflation becomes negative. While this may appear to be a good thing, in the world of economics, it’s usually considered to be problematic. Common causes of deflation include:

  • Technological advancements
  • Lower production costs
  • Decreased confidence in the economy
  • An increase in unemployment

What is stagflation?

This term is pretty self-explanatory and refers to an economic situation whereby levels of unemployment are high, economic growth stagnates, and interest rates are also high. The UK was hit hard by stagflation back in the 1970s, caused in part by the OPEC oil crisis. That said, it is a rare occurrence economically.

Hyperinflation through the ages

While inflation can significantly impact the economy and make life a lot more expensive, hyperinflation takes this to the next level. It occurs when prices rise at a rate over 50% a month.

While also rare, hyperinflation has occurred numerous times throughout history. The worst example of hyperinflation occurred in Hungary in 1946, where prices doubled every 15.6 hours. Meanwhile, hyperinflation in Weimar Germany reached rates of over 30,000% per month. Elsewhere, in January 1994, Yugoslavia’s inflation reached 313 million percent. During this time, prices doubled every 34 hours!

Guarding yourself against inflation

Understandably, talk about inflation can prick people’s ears and cause concern. However, there are methods that you can use to protect yourself against the effects of inflation.

When faced with inflation, it’s a good idea to use the savings you have to reduce your debt, whether that’s credit card debt or an overdraft. Of course, you shouldn’t deplete all of your savings in this way; it’s always wise to have an emergency fund.

That being said, if you notice you have an excess of savings, it can be beneficial to invest a portion of your surplus. Here, investment in equities is a good move.

Equally, ensuring that you maximise your tax efficiency is an effective way to guard yourself against inflation. ISAs are great here and allow you to save and grow investments free of tax.

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Monday, July 19th, 2021 Economy No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

Visualisation of large financial numbers

by Admin

The well-known web comic xkcd has created a very detailed visualisation of what the large financial numbers, like millions and billions, actually mean. It’s sometimes difficult to comprehend exactly what it means when newsreaders mention a debt of £1 billion.

This visualisation is rather US-centric, but much of the information displayed is valuable for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. It starts with individual dollars, then compounds them to thousands (shrinking the scale). Continuing on to millions, billions and finally trillions, it gives a clear indication of just how much money we’re talking about. Check out the diagram here: (you will need to zoom in!).

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Thursday, December 8th, 2011 Economy No Comments

The Logic of Life

by Admin

A little over a year ago, I recommended Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist. Now, I can also recommend his latest book, The Logic of Life, to anyone who wants to understand how economic “rational” thinking affects all of us every day.

In The Logic of Life, Tim explains how all of us act rationally (that is, with reasoned self-interest) every day, even in some situations where we think we are acting purely emotionally or altruistically. He demonstrates that some actions which appear to be irrational (like government subsidies that benefit only a few special-interest groups but increase tax for many other voters – surely the government would try to please the most voters?) are actually rational. He doesn’t argue that every decision we make is completely rational, just very many of those that we don’t even spend time thinking about.

My favourite part is where he gives several reasons why your boss is overpaid – something we’ve all wondered in the past, and it’s both reassuring and disconcerting to learn that there might be a legitimate reason for it. More disconcerting is the chapter explaining that racism can be rational – and demonstrating that while rationality may be more prevalent than we expect, it is not always to be applauded.

If you’d like to get some insight into a few of life’s little mysteries, click on the link to the right to buy the book. You’ll be helping to support this website and you might just learn something!

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Saturday, August 21st, 2010 Economy No Comments

Pound’s Euro rate improves

by Admin

With the economy having improved over the last couple of months, and many people last year choosing to have a cheaper holiday and stay in the UK, perhaps this year there’ll be more of us thinking of treating ourselves to a trip to Europe this summer. And if you’re one of them, good news – over the last few weeks the Euro exchange rate has improved significantly!

Although €1.20 to the pound is not what you might consider a great rate, it’s not been at that level since the pound plummetted at the end of 2008. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news – this improvement is not due to the pound getting stronger but the Euro getting weaker – the pound continues to fall against the Yen and the Dollar (although it has seen a recent rally on this last count). The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt has written a great blog post explaining why the Euro is in such trouble.

When will the pound return to its previous strong position? Well, the rates we remember of a few years ago such as 2 dollars to the pound are not going to return anytime soon, but if confidence in the UK economy increases then investors will value the pound more. An increase in UK interest rates would also give a boost (since saving pounds then becomes more worthwhile) – but this would impact on mortgage interest rates for a lot of homeowners. Would you rather find it easier to pay your mortgage every month, or have a bit extra holiday money in the summer?

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Friday, June 11th, 2010 Foreign Currency 3 Comments


by Admin

I’ve previously mentioned the book Freakonomics as an interesting read which explains how economic thought can be applied to many different (and unusual) areas of the world around us. Well, the same authors (Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) have recently released a follow-up book, Superfreakonomics.

This book covers in quite some depth topics such as finding solutions to global warming, using statistical analysis to find terrorists (particularly relevant at the moment) and why the solutions to big problems are often simple. I personally found that a few of these chapters strayed further from the economics-based descriptions that defined the first book – concentrating more on the details of possible solutions to global warming than the economic forces working on those solutions, for example.

Having said that, the chapter about the economics of prostitution is very much like the previous book’s chapter on drug dealing – because the relevant studies the authors were reporting on were done by the same researcher. It offers some of the detailed analysis that I felt made the first book accessible – explaining why the data gathered (and the methods used to gather the data) can tell you things you wouldn’t otherwise find out.

A very entertaining read which unfortunately is over too quickly – but the epilogue is my favourite part of the whole book, where they explain briefly the impact of explaining to monkeys the concept of money!

Click on the link to the right to buy the book from Amazon, and you’ll be doing your bit to support this site!

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Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 Economy No Comments

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