Inflation and Consumer Spending

Read this section for an in-depth look at the relationship between inflation, the economy, and how we spend our money. As you read this material, consider the effect of inflation on your purchasing power and buying habits. As the rate of inflation increases, there is a decline in your purchasing power as a consumer, but a decrease in inflation and lower prices can also affect what we buy. For example, as gas prices decline, we see an associated decline in the rate of hybrid car purchases. List three ways that inflation might affect your life.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in the price level of consumer goods and services purchased by households. The CPI in the United States is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services". The CPI is a statistical estimate constructed using the prices of a sample of representative items whose prices are collected periodically. It is one of several price indices calculated by most national statistical agencies. The annual percentage change in a CPI is used as a measure of inflation. A CPI can be used to index (i.e., adjust for the effect of inflation) the real value of wages, salaries, pensions, for regulating prices, and for deflating monetary magnitudes to show changes in real values. In most countries, CPI is one of the most closely watched national economic statistics.