Inflation Dynamics: Dead, Dormant, or Determined Abroad?

62 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2019 Last revised: 26 May 2021

See all articles by Kristin J. Forbes

Kristin J. Forbes

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

Inflation dynamics have been difficult to explain over the last decade. This paper explores if a more comprehensive treatment of globalization can help. CPI inflation has become more synchronized around the world since the 2008 crisis, but core and wage inflation have become less synchronized. Global factors (including commodity prices, world slack, exchange rates, and global value chains) are significant drivers of CPI inflation in a cross-section of countries, and their role has increased over the last decade, particularly the role of non-fuel commodity prices. These global factors, however, do less to improve our understanding of core and wage inflation. Key results are robust to using a less-structured trend-cycle decomposition instead of a Phillips curve framework, with the set of global variables more important for understanding the cyclical component of inflation over the last decade, but not the underlying slow-moving inflation trend. Domestic slack still plays a role for all the inflation measures, although globalization has caused some “flattening” of this relationship, especially for CPI inflation. Although CPI inflation is increasingly “determined abroad”, core and wage inflation is still largely a domestic process.

Suggested Citation

Forbes, Kristin J., Inflation Dynamics: Dead, Dormant, or Determined Abroad? (November 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26496, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3492898

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