Even if you believe that excessive government spending played a big role in the initial rise in inflation, future inflation will reflect more persistent factors — which, in Olivier Blanchard and Ben Bernanke analysis, means focusing on the labor market, which they say is still overheated and needs to cool. The six-million-job question is whether this cooling off needs to involve a large rise in unemployment. The paper is actually fairly optimistic on that question, suggesting that “immaculate disinflation,” inflation coming down without any significant rise in unemployment, may be possible, and that even if it isn’t, those grim projections we were hearing a year ago about the need for many years of high unemployment no longer seem plausible. The ratio of vacancies to the unemployed as their measure of labor market tightness. And what has been really striking since late 2022 is that vacancies have come way down without any rise in unemployment. Related: What Caused the U.S. Pandemic-Era Inflation? and Inflation: A Series of Unfortunate Events vs. Original Sin
- Date Posted:
- May 26, 2023
A spike in the Kansas City Fed’s Financial Stress Index historically leads to higher unemployment and somewhat lower inflation. A one standard deviation increase in financial stress typically portends an increase in the unemployment rate of 0.7 percentage points. Financial stress historically reduces inflation as well: inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), falls by about 0.4 percentage points in the first year following an increase in financial stress. By this metric, financial stress is about half as disinflationary as monetary tightening. Could the recent increase in financial stress generate the same disinflationary effects as tighter monetary policy? The left panel in Chart 2 shows that monetary policy tightening, as measured by an unexpected increase in the expected path of the federal funds rate (blue line), slows economic activity and raises the unemployment rate, similar to an increase in financial stress. However, despite a similar increase in the unemployment rate, inflation falls by 0.65 percentage points in the first year following monetary tightening (right panel), a considerably larger decline than we estimate following an increase in financial stress.