Analysing Inflation: Monetary and Real Theories

The paper seeks to analyse the inflationary trends observed in Pakistan in the recent past by applying both the monetary and real theories. The former explains inflation in terms of changes in liquidity per unit of real output and velocity whereas the latter makes use of real variables, especially, the structure of economy. Since the ratio between money spending (quantity of money times velocity) and real GDP defines general price level, monetary theory offers a natural tool for analysing inflation. Even factors like raising utility prices by the government or higher expected inflation add to inflation only when the additional demand for money generated by these factors is met with an accommodating increase in money supply (with stable velocity). During FY86 to 96 in Pakistan, money supply grew by 15.4 percent, GDP by 5.3 percent, and velocity by –0.24 percent. This yields an estimated inflation of 9.4 percent, very close to the actual one of 9.2 percent. Interestingly enough, more than half of the money expansion during the 90s emanated from credit for budgetary support, rendering the latter an active source of inflation. Under the real theory, we focused on full-cost-pricing wherein the market value-added price is defined as a weighted sum of various primary costs, e.g., wages, profits, and net indirect taxes. To capture the impact of terms of trade, foreign trade flows were added. It has been estimated that the overall inflation of 9.4 percent during FY86–95 was contributed to the extent of 5.6 points by profits, 2.2 points by wages, 0.9 by net indirect taxes and 0.7 by terms of trade. From policy perspective, monetary analysis has an edge over real analysis as controlling inflation through monetary management is relatively easier than through regulating various costs elements which go into the formation of price.