Anchoring inflation will be the base for long-term growth

Anchoring inflation will be the base for long-term growth


The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has consistently prioritized anchoring inflation expectations to ensure long-term sustainable growth.

  • The recent decision to keep the benchmark repo rate unchanged highlights the challenges and importance of managing inflation in the current economic scenario.


GS03 (Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is the Topic About and the Issue?
  • Impact of Inflation – Good or Bad?
  • Different Types of Inflation
  • Key Terms Related to Inflation

What is the Topic About and the Issue?

  • The primary focus of this discussion is the RBI’s approach to controlling inflation, particularly through the decisions of the MPC.
  • Inflation, defined as the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services rises, erodes purchasing power and can destabilize the economy if not kept in check.
  • The MPC’s decision to maintain the repo rate at 6.50% for the eighth consecutive meeting underscores the persistent concerns about inflation, especially food inflation.

Impact of Inflation – Good or Bad?

Positive Impacts:

  • Stimulates Spending: Moderate inflation encourages spending and investment, as people prefer to buy now rather than pay more later.
  • Reduces Debt Burden: Inflation can reduce the real value of debt, making it easier for borrowers to repay loans.
  • Increases Wages: In a growing economy, inflation is often accompanied by rising wages.

Negative Impacts:

  • Erodes Purchasing Power: High inflation reduces the purchasing power of money, leading to a decrease in real income.
  • Uncertainty and Instability: High and volatile inflation creates uncertainty, affecting investment and long-term economic planning.
  • Interest Rates: Persistent inflation leads to higher interest rates, which can dampen economic growth.

Different Types of Inflation

  • Demand-Pull Inflation: Occurs when demand for goods and services exceeds supply, driving up prices.
  • Cost-Push Inflation: Results from an increase in the costs of production, such as wages and raw materials, which producers pass on to consumers.
  • Built-In Inflation: Also known as wage-price inflation, it occurs when workers demand higher wages, and businesses pass these costs onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

Inflation’s Effect on Exports, Imports and Interest rates:

Exports and Imports:

  • Exports: High inflation can make a country’s goods more expensive abroad, reducing export competitiveness.
  • Imports: Conversely, inflation can make imports cheaper relative to domestic goods, increasing import volumes.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest Rates: To combat inflation, central banks often raise interest rates. Higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing, reducing spending and investment.

RBI’s Stand and Why?

The RBI’s MPC has maintained the repo rate at 6.50% despite concerns over elevated food inflation. Several factors justify this stance:

  • Food Inflation Concerns: Food inflation, driven by rising prices of essentials like tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, poses a significant risk to overall price stability. The Consumer Food Price Index showed an increase from 8.52% in March to 8.7% in April, with further acceleration likely.
  • Climate Impact: Adverse climate events, such as heatwaves, affect agricultural output, exacerbating food inflation. Low water storage levels and extreme summer temperatures further complicate the situation.
  • Industrial Costs: Rising prices of industrial metals and uncertain crude oil prices add to inflationary pressures. Tensions in West Asia and output cuts by OPEC+ can lead to higher oil prices, impacting overall inflation.
  • Consumer Expectations: Surveys indicate that households expect inflation to increase across all major product groups. Such expectations can become self-fulfilling, as businesses and consumers adjust their behavior in anticipation of higher prices.
  • Core Inflation: Besides food inflation, core inflation (excluding food and fuel) remains a concern. Rising industrial costs and global uncertainties add to the challenges.

Key Terms Related to Inflation

  • Disinflation: A decrease in the rate of inflation.
  • Deflation: A continuous decline in the overall price level, resulting in negative inflation.
  • Reflation: An increase in the price level as the economy recovers from a recession, reflecting inflation.
  • Creeping Inflation: Low inflation, typically up to 3%.
  • Walking/Trotting Inflation: Moderate inflation, ranging between 3% and 7%.
  • Running/Galloping Inflation: High inflation, exceeding 10%.
  • Runaway/Hyperinflation: Extreme inflation with very high rates.
  • Stagflation: A combination of inflation and recession, characterized by rising prices and high unemployment.
  • Misery Index: The sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate.
  • Inflationary Gap: Occurs when aggregate demand exceeds aggregate supply at the full employment level.
  • Deflationary Gap: Occurs when aggregate supply exceeds aggregate demand at the full employment level.
  • Suppressed/Repressed Inflation: A situation where aggregate demand surpasses aggregate supply, but the government intervenes to prevent price increases.
  • Open Inflation: A scenario where prices rise without any government-imposed price controls.
  • Core Inflation: Inflation measured using items with non-volatile prices.
  • Headline Inflation: Inflation measured across all commodities.
  • Structural Inflation: Inflation resulting from structural issues like infrastructural bottlenecks.

Way Forward

To ensure long-term growth, it is imperative to anchor inflation expectations effectively. The following steps can be considered:

  • Monetary Policy: The RBI should continue to monitor inflation closely and adjust interest rates as needed to maintain price stability. A balanced approach is required to support growth while keeping inflation in check.
  • Supply Chain Management: Addressing supply-side constraints, particularly in agriculture, can help stabilize food prices. This includes improving storage facilities, transportation infrastructure, and market access for farmers.
  • Technological Interventions: Leveraging technology to enhance productivity and efficiency in agriculture and industry can mitigate inflationary pressures.
  • Climate Resilience: Developing strategies to cope with adverse climate events, such as heatwaves and droughts, can protect agricultural output and reduce volatility in food prices.
  • Public Awareness: Educating the public about inflation and monetary policy can help manage expectations and prevent panic-induced price hikes.
  • Global Coordination: Given the interconnectedness of economies, coordinating with international bodies to manage global commodity prices and ensure stable supply chains can help mitigate external inflationary pressures.