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The Supply-Shock Explanation of the Great Stagflation Revisited

In: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking

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  • Alan S. Blinder
  • Jeremy B. Rudd

Abstract

U.S. inflation data exhibit two notable spikes into the double-digit range in 1973-1974 and again in 1978-1980. The well-known “supply-shock” explanation attributes both spikes to large food and energy shocks plus, in the case of 1973-1974, the removal of price controls. Yet critics of this explanation have (a) attributed the surges in inflation to monetary policy and (b) pointed to the far smaller impacts of more recent oil shocks as evidence against the supply-shock explanation. This paper reexamines the impacts of the supply shocks of the 1970s in the light of the new data, new events, new theories, and new econometric studies that have accumulated over the past quarter century. We find that the classic supply-shock explanation holds up very well; in particular, neither data revisions nor updated econometric estimates substantially change the evaluations of the 1972-1983 period that were made 25 years (or more) ago. We also rebut several variants of the claim that monetary policy, rather than supply shocks, was really to blame for the inflation spikes. Finally, we examine several changes in the economy that may explain why the impacts of oil shocks are so much smaller now than they were in the 1970s.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Michael D. Bordo & Athanasios Orphanides, 2013. "The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord08-1, octubre-d.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 9160.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:9160

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. James D. Hamilton, 2010. "Causes and consequences of the oil shock of 2007–08," CQER Working Paper 2009-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. Christiane Baumeister & Gert Peersman & Ine Van Robays, 2010. "The Economic Consequences of Oil Shocks: Differences across Countries and Time," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Renée Fry & Callum Jones & Christopher Kent (ed.), Inflation in an Era of Relative Price Shocks Reserve Bank of Australia.
    3. Menzie D. Chinn & Olivier Coibion, 2010. "The Predictive Content of Commodity Futures," NBER Working Papers 15830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Carlos Garcia, 2012. "Impacto del Costo de la Energía Eléctrica en la Economía Chilena: Una Perspectiva Macroeconómica," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv281, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    5. Özbek, Levent & Özlale, Ümit, 2010. "Analysis of real oil prices via trend-cycle decomposition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3676-3683, July.
    6. Michael D. Bordo & John Landon-Lane, 2013. "Does expansionary monetary policy cause asset price booms? some historical and empirical evidence," Journal Economía Chilena (The Chilean Economy), Central Bank of Chile, vol. 16(2), pages 04-52, August.
    7. Etsuro Shioji & Taisuke Uchino, 2011. "Pass-Through of Oil Prices to Japanese Domestic Prices," NBER Chapters, in: Commodity Prices and Markets, East Asia Seminar on Economics, Volume 20, pages 155-189 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Werner Roeger & Jan in 't Veld, 2009. "Fiscal policy with credit constrained households," European Economy - Economic Papers 357, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    9. Pittaluga, Giovanni Battista & Seghezza, Elena, 2012. "The Great Inflation in Italy: A Political Economy View - La Grande Inflazione in Italia: un’interpretazione alla luce della political economy," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio di Genova, vol. 65(1), pages 65-81.
    10. Selgin, George & Lastrapes, William D. & White, Lawrence H., 2012. "Has the Fed been a failure?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 569-596.
    11. Röger, Werner & Székely, Istvan & Turrini, Alessandro Antonio, 2010. "Banking crises, Output Loss and Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 7815, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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