Some countries have experienced such high inflation rates that their money became worthless. Imagine going to the store with boxes full of money and not being able to buy anything with it because prices have gotten so high! At such high inflation rates, the economy tends to break down.
The Federal Reserve, like other central banks, was established to foster economic prosperity and social welfare. Part of the mission given to the Federal Reserve by Congress is to keep prices stable—that is, to keep prices from rising or falling too quickly. The Federal Reserve sees a rate of inflation of 2 percent per year—as measured by a particular price index, called the price index for personal consumption expenditures—as the right amount of inflation.
The Federal Reserve seeks to control inflation by influencing interest rates. When inflation is too high, the Federal Reserve typically raises interest rates to slow the economy and bring inflation down. When inflation is too low, the Federal Reserve typically lowers interest rates to stimulate the economy and move inflation higher.
Want to keep reading? Learn the basics of inflation.