Inflation Measures in India
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What is Inflation ? Inflation is n Inflation is no stranger to the Indian economy. In fact, till the early nineties Indians were used to double-digit inflation and its attendant consequences. But, since the midnineties controlling inflation has become a priority for policy framers. The natural fallout of this has been that we, as a nation, have become virtually intolerant to inflation. While inflation till the early nineties was primarily caused by domestic factors (supply usually was unable to meet demand, resulting in the classical definition of inflation of too much money chasing too few goods), today the situation has changed significantly. Inflation today is caused more by global rather than by dom Inflation is defined as a sustained increase in the general level of prices for goods and services. It is measured as an annual percentage increase As inflation rises, the value of currency goes down. Thus the
purchasing power of the currency, i.e. the goods and services that can be bought in a unit of currency, too goes down.
Rising inflation level is a major issue worrying all the countries.
India’s inflation Rate. The Indian economy has been registering stupendous growth after the liberalization of Indian economy. The opening up of the Indian economy in the early 1990s had increased India's industrial output and consequently has raised the India Inflation Rate. The stupendous growth rate of industrial output and employment has created enormous pressure on the inflation rate. The Reserve Bank of India (the central bank) and the Ministry of Finance, Government of India are concerned about the prevalent and intermittent rise of the inflation rate. The present rise of Inflation rate in India can be detrimental to the projected growth of Indian economy. Thus, the Reserve Bank of India is devising methods to arrest the rise of inflation by putting checks and measures in place. Although the central bank has assured the Indian business community and the general public about the harmless inflationary rise, apprehensions still exist among the business circles of India. The main cause of rise of India Inflation Rate is the pricing disparity of agricultural products between the producer and endconsumer. Moreover, the meteoric rise of prices of food products, manufacturing products, and essential commodities has also catapulted the India Inflation Rate. As a result of this, the Wholesale Prices Index (WPI) of India touched 6.1% as on 6th January, 2007. Moreover, the Cash Reserve Ratio touched 5.5% on the same day.
To arrest the panic and discomfort amongst the Indian business circles, the Reserve Bank of India, in its recently drafted monetary policy, had given top priority to price stability. It also sought to sustain the stupendous rate of economic growth of India. The Reserve Bank of India has raised the Cash Reserve Ratio in a continuous manner to arrest the rise of India Inflation Rate. The solution to this problem lies in rationalizing the pricing disparity between the producer and the consumer. Only this will ensure inflation stabilization and thus sustainable economic growth of India.
Measures of Inflation The inflation in the Indian economy can be measured in 3 ways: 1) National Income Deflator- This is defined as ratio of GDP at current prices and GDP at Constant Prices. It is a comprehensive measure as it encompasses all the goods and services produced in the economy. However, its application is limited as it is released on a quarterly basis by CSO and then it comes with a lag of 2 months (e.g. figures for quarter Jan-Mar 2008 quarter are released on 30 May, 2008). Further the GDP figures are subject to revisions (though this applies to WPI as well) and together these factors make it of little use for policymakers. 2) Based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI)- This is the most common measure of inflation and is used for policy purposes. 3) Based on Consumer Price Indices- Within Consumer Price Indices, there are four subindices that are based to capture price levels across different types of consumers. They are: a. CPI - Industrial Workers
b. CPI- Urban Non-Manual Employees c. CPI- Agricultural labor d. CPI- Rural Labor
Long term trends in Inflation !
Long-term trends: Figure 1 shows overall inflation trends have
declined from 1970s levels. Inflation declines in 1980s, increases in 1990s compared to 1980s level but again declines in 2000s. Inflation has nearly halved in 2000s compared to 1970 levels and this is common across all measures of inflation except WPI-Fuel. Apart from the absolute inflation number, another important indicator is volatility in the overall inflation trend. High volatility implies estimating inflation in future becomes difficult and this makes anchoring inflation expectations very difficult.
HOW INDIA CALCULATE INFLATION?? Rising inflation was the most recent ticklish political issue that hit the Manmohan Singh government. But was inflation rising because of price rise in essential commodities? Or was it because of the 'erroneous method' of calculating inflation? Some economists assert that India's method of calculating inflation is wrong as there are serious flaws in the methodologies used by the government. Economists V Shunmugam and D G Prasad working with India's largest commodity bourse -- the Multi Commodity Exchange -- have come out with a research paper arguing that the government urgently needs to shift the method of calculating inflation. Saying that there are serious flaws in the present method of calculating inflation, the paper India should adopt methodologies in developed economies. So how does India calculate inflation? And how is it calculated in developed countries ? India uses the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) to calculate and then decide the inflation rate in the economy. Most developed countries use the Consumer Price Index
(CPI) to calculate inflation.
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. Consumer Price Index (CPI) CPI is a statistical time-series measure of a weighted average of prices of a specified set of goods and services purchased by consumers. It is a price index that tracks the prices of a specified basket of consumer goods and services, providing a measure of inflation. CPI is a fixed quantity price index and considered by some a cost of living index. Under CPI, an index is scaled so that it is equal to 100 at a chosen point in time, so that all other values of the index are a percentage relative to this one. Economists Shunmugam and Prasad say it is high time that India abandoned WPI and adopted CPI to calculate inflation.
India is the only major country that uses a wholesale index to measure inflation. Most countries use the CPI as a measure of inflation, as this actually measures the increase in price that a consumer will ultimately have to pay for. "CPI is the official barometer of inflation in many countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Canada, Singapore and China. The governments there review the commodity basket of CPI every 4-5 years to factor in changes in consumption pattern," says their research paper. It pointed out that WPI does not properly measure the exact price rise an end-consumer will experience because, as the same suggests, it is at the wholesale level. The main problem with WPI calculation is that more than 100 out of the 435 commodities included in the Index have ceased to be important from the consumption point of view. Take, for example, a commodity like coarse grains that go into making of livestock feed. This commodity is insignificant, but continues to be considered while measuring inflation. India constituted the last WPI series of commodities in 1993-94; but has not updated it till now that economists argue the Index has lost relevance and can not be the barometer to calculate inflation. Shunmugam says WPI is supposed to measure impact of prices on business. "But we use it to measure the impact on consumers. Many commodities not consumed by consumers get calculated in the index. And it does not factor in services which have assumed so much importance in the economy," he pointed out. The WPI is published on a weekly basis and the CPI, on a monthly basis. And in India, inflation is calculated on a weekly basis.
CAUSES FOR INFLATION IN INDIA The current rise in inflation has its roots in supply-side factors. There
was shortfall in domestic production vis-a-vis domestic demand and Hardening of international prices, prices of primary Commodities, mainly food items. Wheat, pulses, edible oils, fruits and vegetables, and condiments and spices have been the major contributors to the higher inflation rate of primary articles. The inflation was also accompanied by buoyant growth of money and credit. While the GDP growth zoomed to 9.0 per cent per annum, the broad money (M3) grew by more than 20 per cent. Demand for nearly everything from housing to fast moving
consumer goods is outpacing supply in part because whitecollar salaries are rising faster in India than anywhere else in Asia It would be too simplistic to hold any one factor responsible for inflationary rise in prices in India in recent years. Actually, all of them collectively have contributed to the price situation in India in recent years. All the factors responsible for the rise in general prices can be categorized as (*) Demand-Pull Factors (*) Cost-Push Factors (*) Other Factors
Consequences of Inflation Effects on production Effects on the distribution of Income Effects on fixed income earners
An Assignment of
Managerial Economics On
Inflation Measures in India
By, D.Pradeep Kumar
Exe-MBA, IIPM, HYD