Inflation refers to the rate at which the general price level of goods and services in an economy rises over time. As the cost of living increases, the purchasing power of money decreases, and this can have a significant impact on investments. In this guide, we’ll explore the definition of inflation, what causes it, and how it affects the financial markets.



Inflation is usually measured using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which keeps track of changes in the prices of a basket of goods and services typically consumed by households. When the CPI increases, it means that prices are rising, and the value of money is decreasing. The rate of inflation is expressed as a percentage, and it is usually calculated on an annual basis. For example, if the CPI increases by 2% in a year, it means that prices have risen by 2% over the previous year.

How does inflation affect investments?

Inflation can have a significant impact on investments because it erodes the purchasing power of money over time. When prices are rising, investors need to earn a higher return on their investments just to maintain their purchasing power. For example, if the inflation rate is 2%, and an investor earns a return of 2% on their investment, they are not actually making any real gains in purchasing power; in fact, they are just breaking even. 

What are the main causes?

There are a number of factors that can cause a rise in inflation, but the most frequent is a rise in money supply. If the supply of money in an economy increases faster than the supply of goods and services, prices tend to rise as more money is chasing after the same product value. 

Another common cause is a rise in the consumer demand for new goods and services. At times when demand is high and prices rise, inflation can follow. This is often seen in the housing market, where a shortage of homes can drive up prices.

What are the long-term effects of high inflation on the economy and investment market?

One of the most significant long-term effects on the economy and investment market is a decrease in the value of money. As the purchasing power of money decreases, it can lead to lower consumer confidence and investment activity. This in turn can lead to a decrease in economic growth and job creation.

High inflation can also lead to an increase in interest rates. When inflation is high, the UK’s central bank, the Bank of England, often raises interest rates to try to slow down the economy and control inflation. Higher interest rates can make borrowing more expensive, which can lead to a decrease in consumer spending and investment.

What are the different types of inflation and how do they affect the financial markets?

Understanding the different types of inflation and their impact on the market is essential for investors and traders to make informed decisions, as the type of inflation can affect the financial markets in various ways: 

  • Demand-Pull Inflation – This type of inflation occurs when there is an increase in demand for goods and services, leading to a rise in prices. 
  • Cost-Push Inflation – On the other hand, cost-push inflation happens when there is an increase in the cost of production, which drives a rise in prices.  
  • Built-In Inflation – Built-in inflation occurs when workers and businesses expect prices to rise, leading to an increase in wages and prices – this type of inflation can be challenging to control as it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of price increases. 
  • Hyperinflation – This type of inflation is rare and occurs when prices rise uncontrollably, often due to a collapse in the economic system. In these circumstances, the stock market may crash, and central banks may also be forced to print more money to control the situation, leading to even higher inflation and a devalued currency.

The different types of inflation can have big impacts on the financial markets. Demand-pull inflation may lead to higher stock prices, while cost-push inflation may decrease bond prices. Built-in inflation may lead to a poor stock market performance and high-interest rates, while hyperinflation can lead to a market crash and devalued currency. 

What are the potential consequences of high inflation for investors?

High inflation can have significant consequences for investors, which include reduced purchasing power, decreased investment returns and higher interest rates. Investors might also see decreased earnings as a result of reduced international competitiveness or currency devaluation.  

What are the ways that inflation can affect interest rates? 

Inflation and interest rates are closely linked, and changes in one can affect the other. For instance, if inflation rises above a certain level, the Bank of England may increase interest rates to reduce the supply of money and control inflation. Conversely, if inflation is low, it may reduce interest rates to stimulate economic growth.

Inflation can also impact mortgage rates; if inflation rises, the cost of borrowing increases, and lenders may raise mortgage rates to compensate for the increased borrowing costs. 

Inflation can present complex challenges for the UK government and the Bank of England to resolve, but by closely tracking rises and falls, investors and consumers can understand the financial market better and make solid investment decisions.