Michael McLeay, Silvana Tenreyro, 03 July 2018

The Phillips curve – a positive relationship between inflation and economic slack – is one of the building blocks of the standard macroeconomic models used for forecasting and policy advice in central banks. On the face of it, recent findings of a breakdown in this relationship would therefore have major implications for monetary policy. This column argues that these findings are perfectly consistent with a stable underlying Phillips curve. The reason is simple: monetary policy will typically seek to reduce output whenever inflation is set to rise above target, blurring the identification of the Phillips curve in the data.

Christiane Nickel, 28 July 2017

The past decade has seen a growing role for global slack in Phillips curve approaches, as opposed to the traditional focus on domestic slack. This column explores whether augmenting Phillips curves by measures of foreign slack can help to better explain past developments in underlying inflation. A majority of specifications, both with and without foreign slack, are found to yield very similar results. Even for periods when domestic slack differed substantially from foreign slack, like between 2012 and 2016, the effects seem to be rather small.

Stefan Gerlach, 05 June 2017

In many economies, inflation may have remained stubbornly low during the recovery because their Phillips curves have become flatter. This column uses an analysis of Swiss data since 1916 that support this argument. The most recent structural break in the Swiss Phillips curve occurred in 1994, when it became much flatter. Previous structural breaks suggest that this has been a change from an above-average to a below-average slope, not a collapse from the long-term normal level.

Laurence Ball, Anusha Chari, Prachi Mishra, 14 April 2017

The inflation rate in India rose from 3.7% to 12.1% between 2001 and 2010, raising concerns that it will rise again. This column separately analyses India's core and headline inflation rates and argues that the average level of core inflation has been consistently less than that of headline inflation. Short-term volatility in prices, especially for food, has driven India’s headline inflation. Estimating a Phillips curve suggests a core inflation–output trade-off in India similar to that of advanced economies during the 1970s and 1980s.

Marco Fioramanti, Robert Waldmann, 19 November 2016

The European Commission is currently evaluating compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact across the Eurozone. However, differences in the econometric methods used by member states and by the Commission can lead to estimates that are at odds. This column argues that the Commission’s method of estimating the non-accelerating wage rate of unemployment for Eurozone members, which relies on an accelerationist Phillips curve, is inferior to specifications with a traditional Phillips curve. The findings highlight how technical aspects of an estimation procedure can have serious effects on policy outcomes.

Carlos Garriga, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek, 16 October 2016

Central banks responded to the financial crisis by cutting policy rates to prevent deflation and curb the decline in economic activity, but these responses have been anything but temporary. This column explores whether the sticky price channel is still relevant in an environment of persistently low rates. Although the effectiveness of the sticky price channel is limited, monetary policy instead transmits through mortgage debt. The recent period of low rates and low inflation has redistributed income and consumption from savers to mortgage borrowers.

Laurence Ball, Sandeep Mazumder, 07 January 2015

Researchers have put forward two explanations for the failure of the US inflation rate to fall as far during the Great Recession as the Phillips curve would predict. Either expectations have been successfully anchored by the Fed’s inflation target, or the Phillips curve is focusing on the wrong thing – aggregate unemployment instead of short-term unemployment. This column shows that the two explanations are complementary; together, they explain the puzzle, but separately they cannot.

Martin Weale, Tomasz Wieladek, 10 June 2014

After reducing their policy rates close to zero in response to the global financial crisis, the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve began purchasing assets. This column assesses the effect of these asset purchases on output and inflation. In line with previous studies, the authors find that asset purchase announcements are associated with increases in both output and inflation in both countries. They also find that quantitative easing had a larger impact on UK inflation, which suggests that the UK Phillips curve is steeper.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 15 November 2013

During the Great Recession, advanced economies have not experienced the disinflation that has historically been associated with high unemployment. This column shows that using consumers’ (as opposed to forecasters’) inflation expectations restores the traditional Phillips curve relationship for recent years. Consumers’ inflation expectations are more responsive to oil prices than those of professional forecasters. The increase in oil prices between 2009 and 2012 may in fact have prevented the onset of pernicious deflationary dynamics.

André Meier, 21 September 2010

What happens to inflation during a downturn? This column documents the behaviour of inflation during 25 episodes of persistent large output gaps in 14 advanced economies over the last 40 years. It finds that such episodes bring about significant disinflation, although inflation tends to bottom out at low positive rates. Recent developments in advanced economies appear consistent with this disinflationary effect.

Ricardo Reis, Mark Watson, 14 January 2008

Here is a discussion of work showing that constructed measures of ‘pure inflation’ differ markedly from standard measures. For example, pure inflation is uncorrelated with real output – just as neoclassical economics says it should be.

Samuel Bentolila, Juan Dolado, Juan F Jimeno, 12 January 2008

Spain’s inflation-less drop in unemployment is due in large part to its immigration boom. If immigrants’ labour-supply behaviour comes closer to that of natives and inflation remains above target, a deeper slowdown or increasing immigration flows will be needed to bring it down.

Samuel Bentolila, Juan Dolado, Juan F Jimeno, 18 December 2007

Over the period 1995-2006, Spanish unemployment decreased by almost 12 percentage points, from 22% to 8%, while inflation remained roughly constant at around 3 - 4%, resulting in a flatter Phillips curve than in any other euro area country. The authors of CEPR DP6604 argue that this favourable evolution is largely due to the impact of the huge rise in the immigration rate, from 1% of the population in 1995 to 9.3% in 2006, on the labour market.

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