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Contraction in the volume of available money or credit that results in a general decline in prices. A less extreme condition is known as disinflation. Attempts are sometimes made to bring on deflation (through raising interest rates and tightening the money supply) in order to combat inflation and slow the economy. Deflation is characteristic of depressions and recessions.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on deflation, visit Britannica.com.