The notion that inflation is harmful is a staple of economic science. But most textbooks underrate the extent of the harm, because they define inflation much too narrowly as a lasting decrease of the purchasing power of money (PPM), and also because they pay scant attention to the concrete forms of inflation. To appreciate the disruptive nature of inflation in its full extent we must keep in mind that it springs from a violation of the fundamental rules of society.
Inflation is what happens when people increase the money supply by fraud, imposition, and breach of contract. Invariably it produces three characteristic consequences: (1) it benefits the perpetrators at the expense of all other money users; (2) it allows the accumulation of debt beyond the level debts could reach on the free market; and (3) it reduces the PPM below the level it would have reached on the free market.
While these three consequences are bad enough, things get much worse once inflation is encouraged and promoted by the state (fiat inflation). The government’s fiat makes inflation perennial, and as a result we observe the formation of inflation-specific institutions and habits. Thus fiat inflation leaves a characteristic cultural and spiritual stain on human society. In what follows, we will take a closer look at some aspects of this legacy…