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Will US inflation awake from the dead? The role of slack and non-linearities in the Phillips curve

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  • Albuquerque, Bruno
  • Baumann, Ursel

Abstract

The response of US inflation to the high levels of spare capacity during the Great Recession of 2007–09 was rather muted. At the same time, some have argued that the short-term unemployment gap has a more prominent role than the standard unemployment gap in determining inflation, and either the closing of this gap or non-linearities in the Phillips curve could lead to a sudden pick-up in inflation. In this context, our main aim is to provide guidance to policymakers as regards the reliability of the Phillips curve to forecast inflation. Our main findings from Phillips curves estimated since the early-1990s suggest that the consideration of a time-variation in the Phillips curve slope is more relevant than just focusing on finding the “correct” slack measure. Although the Phillips curve may be relatively flat over the full sample (1992Q1–2015Q1), time-varying estimates with rolling windows and with the Kalman filter suggest that the slope does vary over time and that it has increased slightly since 2013. These non-linear specifications outperform the benchmark linear model in an out-of-sample exercise. The main policy implication is that decision-makers should not exclude the possibility that inflation might rise suddenly given its non-linear behaviour, and more strongly than a linear model would dictate.

Suggested Citation

  • Albuquerque, Bruno & Baumann, Ursel, 2017. "Will US inflation awake from the dead? The role of slack and non-linearities in the Phillips curve," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 247-271.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:2:p:247-271
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpolmod.2017.01.004
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    2. Consolo, Agostino & Da Silva, António Dias, 2019. "The euro area labour market through the lens of the Beveridge curve," Economic Bulletin Articles, European Central Bank, vol. 4.
    3. Simone Auer, 2018. "Labour market conditions and wage inflation in CEE economies," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 460, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Forbes, Kristin, 2019. "Inflation Dynamics: Dead, Dormant, or Determined Abroad?," CEPR Discussion Papers 14195, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Conti, Antonio M., 2021. "Resurrecting the Phillips Curve in Low-Inflation Times," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 172-195.
    6. Nathan R. Babb & Alan K. Detmeister, 2017. "Nonlinearities in the Phillips Curve for the United States : Evidence Using Metropolitan Data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-070, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Antonio M. Conti & Concetta Gigante, 2018. "Weakness in Italy�s core inflation and the Phillips curve: the role of labour and financial indicators," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 466, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    8. Kristin J. Forbes, 2019. "How Have Shanghai, Saudi Arabia, and Supply Chains Affected U.S. Inflation Dynamics?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 101(1), pages 27-44.
    9. Sara Serra, 2018. "Is the Phillips curve dead? - results for Portugal," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles and Banco de Portugal Economic Studies, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    10. Bonam, Dennis & de Haan, Jakob & van Limbergen, Duncan, 2021. "Time-varying wage Phillips curves in the euro area with a new measure for labor market slack," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 157-171.
    11. Álvarez, Luis J. & Sánchez, Isabel, 2019. "Inflation projections for monetary policy decision making," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 568-585.
    12. Jean-Louis Combes & Pierre Lesuisse, 2021. "Inflation and Unemployment, new insights during the EMU accession," Working Papers hal-03216478, HAL.
    13. Constantinescu, Mihnea & Nguyen, Anh D.M., 2018. "Unemployment or credit: Which one holds the potential? Results for a small open economy with a low degree of financialization," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 649-664.
    14. Dennis Bonam & Gabriele Galati & Irma Hindrayanto & Marco Hoeberichts & Anna Samarina & Irina Stanga, 2019. "Inflation in the euro area since the Global Financial Crisis," DNB Occasional Studies 1703, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    15. Kristin Forbes, 2019. "Has globalization changed the inflation process?," BIS Working Papers 791, Bank for International Settlements.
    16. Christian Gayer & Bertrand Marc, 2018. "A ‘New Modesty’? Level Shifts in Survey Data and the Decreasing Trend of ‘Normal’ Growth," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 083, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Phillips curve; Labour market slack; Inflation dynamics; Forecasting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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