For much of this year, inflation has been all we could talk about. From office workers complaining of exorbitant caifan (mixed rice) prices to policymakers raising interest rates yet again to fight inflation, it is in our minds whenever we shop, save, and invest.
Does it feel like you are getting less bang for your buck these days? You’re not alone: I find myself dreading a visit to the petrol station every time my car’s fuel gauge lights up. In August 2022, The Straits Times reported that all fuel pump prices in Singapore have increased – Shell and Caltex raised diesel by 7 cents and petrol by 3 cents a litre – following a rise in crude oil prices globally.
Inflation, as former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher puts it, is the unseen robber of those who have saved. But I think the definition shared by American economist Milton Friedman is more accurate – inflation is caused by too much money chasing after too few goods.
Ask any shopper exiting your neighbourhood grocery store what they think could be the main reason behind the current inflation, and you’ll probably get one of the following answers: “The war between Russia and Ukraine”, “Supply chain disruption”, “Too much money was printed during the pandemic”, “Climate change affecting our food supplies” – factors that are not within our control. But while the volatile global situation is a driving force behind our predicament, the truth is, the current inflation is also very much a product of our behaviour as consumers.