What is hyperinflation? – Definition & Explanation

Both inflation and deflation can lead to a decline in purchasing power. This can have a significant impact on investment. National economies can be severely affected if the purchasing power of money falls disproportionately. Prosperity declines and, if prolonged, economic and political crises can occur.

In hyperinflation, money loses massive value.

Definition: What is inflation?

Inflation is when the prices of goods and services rise rapidly over an extended period of time. Inflation occurs when the purchasing power of money decreases. This trend will continue, and consumers and businesses will lose confidence in the currency. This is because the currency loses value due to this loss of confidence. Hyperinflation is the worst case scenario. It occurs when money loses most of its value in a short period of time.

Definition of deflation (the opposite of inflation)

Deflation occurs when the prices of goods or services in various industries fall significantly over a long period of time. The purchasing power of money also increases.

Consumers hope for further price reductions and postpone their purchasing decisions. Companies will sell fewer products and services, reducing investment opportunities. This will eventually lead to layoffs or bankruptcies if the trend continues. This will make it harder for consumers to buy anything. In addition, banks will lend less and government tax revenues will decline. This downward spiral will continue if it is not broken.

If deflation continues, there is a risk of recession, which can lead to the collapse of the entire monetary system.

Thus, inflation is a decrease in the value of money or an increase in the general level of prices in the economy. The main causes of inflation are rising consumer prices and an increase in the amount of money in circulation. This leads to a decrease in the value of money.

The speed at which inflation develops (the level of inflation) determines the types of inflation that can be distinguished:

Creeping inflation
Trotting inflation
Inflation at an all-time high

Causes of inflation

There are many reasons for inflation. These three explanatory models are the most common: The Quantity Theory states that the Money supply increases disproportionately with constant supply. Money is not saved.

From supply-induced inflation is when companies pass on rising production costs to consumers or raise prices due to their monopoly position. Demand-induced inflation is when demand exceeds production capacity. This leads to price increases.


Inflation and the speed of inflation

The speed at which prices change is also an important factor. Experts speak of creeping, trotting or galloping inflation, depending on the speed.

Creeping inflation is when inflation and deflation are accompanied by price fluctuations of 5 percent or less. The economy is not at risk if inflation creeps up to a level that causes prices to rise above this threshold. Even a moderate rate of inflation may be desirable and is therefore no cause for alarm. A gradual decline in prices of up to 5% does not pose a threat to economic stability.

Economists speak of galloping inflation when the price increase is between 5 % and 30 %. This range can be adjusted, so plodding inflation should always be backed up with figures. Economic instability is the result of deflation and trotting inflation. Economic stability is seriously threatened if the trend cannot be reversed in the long term.

Runaway inflation exacerbates this danger. Annual price increases are in excess of 30 percent. The economy is coming under increasing pressure. This also applies in the event of deflation.

Distinction: So when do we talk about hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is a rapid rise in prices and a monthly inflation rate of over 50 percent. Galloping inflation is a condition in which the monthly inflation rate increases rapidly (galloping) up to 20 percent per month. 50 percent. A crisis situation is often signaled by rapidly rising inflation, which is almost always due to an increase in government spending and an increase in the money supply.

Hyperinflation, which can lead to annual inflation rates in the five-digit percentage range, can quickly become uncontrollable. It can easily be eliminated by monetary reform.

What are the causes of hyperinflation?

The last hyperinflation in Germany occurred in the 1920s. Political crises, wars and major upheavals within a country can be triggers for hyperinflation. In response, governments massively increase the money supply to offset sudden increases in spending (e.g., war costs). This increase in printed money is not matched by an increase in economic goods produced. Therefore, the price level rises, leading to demonetization.

What are the consequences of hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation occurs when more money flows into the economy, but only a small number of economic goods are available to meet that flow. The sharp increase or decrease in demand means that supply cannot keep up. The result is constantly rising prices and a huge loss of purchasing power. This can lead to hoarding and a sharp Loss in value of money within days or even hours.

Falling real wages and producers who can hardly produce goods and commodities and the resulting poverty of large parts of the population often lead to the economic collapse of the national economy.

Only drastic measures can end hyperinflation, such as complete abolition or exchanging the currency for one with a high exchange rate factor.

What hyperinflation means for the capital markets

Hyperinflation can also lead to massive capital market losses in other financial assets that are traded in the inflation currency (stocks and bonds). Massive waves of selling can lead to substantial inflation-related price losses. Moreover, investors will try to get rid of their holdings as quickly as possible (loss of confidence).

Due to Hyperinflation, investors flee into supposedly safer currencies (capital flight into stronger currencies). The state often tries to prevent this by imposing appropriate currency restrictions. This is because the sale of domestic currency against foreign currency accelerates the fall in prices and reduces confidence.

During hyperinflation, there is often also increased demand for safe physical assets such as Gold, Silver and certain inflation-linked bonds.


In an inflation, money loses its value. In a deflation, money gains value. Both inflation and deflation should not be considered a problem. Moderate inflation is acceptable under the Stability Act acceptable because it stimulates demand. If the effects intensify over a longer period of time, it can pose a threat to the economy.

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