Inflation and unemployment go hand in hand. For every country, maintaining a low unemployment rate is the main objective. It is usually believed that inflation and unemployment are inversely proportional. There are many economists, who hold the opinion that low rate of unemployment together with low inflation rate may be a source of concern. Both low inflation rate and low unemployment rate, may be hypothetical. In real practice, this rarely happens. If a particular country, has full employment, it can be said to have minimum rate of unemployment. If a nation maintains a minimum rate of unemployment in a condition when inflation rate is stable, it is said to follow the natural rate of unemployment. In other words, the natural rate of unemployment is the minimum rate of unemployment, which can be sustained.
Inflation and unemployment- how it works:
If rate of inflation increases suddenly, it temporarily reduces, the rate of increase in the wages. Consequently, unemployment rate decreases. If the workers are able to cope with the increase in inflation, unemployment rate is also less. However, when they do realize that in order to compensate for the increase in price of commodities, the wages ought to be increased, unemployment may rise to a considerable extent. This increase in the demand of wages, has a tendency to reverse the unemployment curve to some extent (unemployment rises). If the rate of inflation is very high, it does not mean that, there will be a permanent decrease in the rate of unemployment. As a rule, rate of inflation and unemployment adjust themselves to attain the equilibrium state, which is known as the natural rate of unemployment state, effortlessly. It just happens.
The Philips Curve:
The Philips Curve, as the name suggests is named after the William Philips, who was a famous economist. He suggested the relationship between inflation and unemployment. The Philips curve shows how inflation and unemployment are related. He suggested that if rate of inflation is high, rate of unemployment is low. On the other hand, if the rate of inflation is low, unemployment rate is high.
The huge reversal last week in the underperforming currencies (BRL and RUB) has put some of the bears on the defensive. In addition, the recent political news (except for Mexico) has been positive: Indonesia's increase in subsidized fuel prices was followed by similar action in Malaysia; Brazil’s financial team looks solid (on paper at least); and the surprise interest rate cut by China sends an important signal of support for EM and commodities.
Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. IMF’s Chief Economist from September 2003 to January 2007. Inaugural recipient of the Fischer Black Prize.
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Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution. Former Turkish Minister of State for Economic Affairs. Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) from 2005-2009.