Inflation is an increase in the price of a basket of goods and services that is representative of the economy as a whole. In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a loss of real value in the internal medium of exchange and unit of account in the economy
A similar definition of inflation can be found in Economics by Parkin and Bade: Inflation is an upward movement in the average level of prices. Its opposite is deflation, a downward movement in the average level of prices. The boundary between inflation and deflation is price stability.
Inflation’s effects on an economy are various and can be simultaneously positive and negative. Negative effects of inflation include an increase in the opportunity cost of holding money, uncertainty over future inflation which may discourage investment and savings, and if inflation is rapid enough, shortages of goods as consumers begin hoarding out of concern that prices will increase in the future. Positive effects include ensuring that central banks can adjust real interest rates (intended to mitigate recessions), and encouraging investment in non-monetary capital projects.
How it is Measured in India: Wholesale Price Index (WPI)
WPI was first published in 1902, and was one of the more economic indicators available to policy makers until it was replaced by most developed countries by the Consumer Price Index in the 1970s.
WPI is the index that is used to measure the change in the average price level of goods traded in wholesale market. In India, a total of 435 commodities data on price level is tracked through WPI which is an indicator of movement in prices of commodities in all trade and transactions. It is also the price index which is available on a weekly basis with the shortest possible time lag only two weeks. The Indian government has taken WPI as an indicator of the rate of inflation in the economy.