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The Missing Inflation Puzzle: The Role of the Wage-Price Pass-Through

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  • Sebastian Heise
  • Fatih Karahan
  • Ayşegül Şahin

Abstract

Price inflation in the U.S. has been sluggish and slow to pick up in the last two decades. We show that this missing inflation can be traced to a growing disconnect between unemployment and core goods inflation. We exploit rich industry-level data to show that weakening pass-through from wages to prices in the goods-producing sector is an important source of the slow inflation pick-up in the last two decades. We set up a theoretical framework where markups and pass-through are a function of firms' market shares and show that increased import competition and rising market concentration reduce pass-through from wages to prices. We then use industry-level data and find strong support for these two channels consistent with the implications of our model.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Heise & Fatih Karahan & Ayşegül Şahin, 2020. "The Missing Inflation Puzzle: The Role of the Wage-Price Pass-Through," NBER Working Papers 27663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27663
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Emi Nakamura & Dawit Zerom, 2010. "Accounting for Incomplete Pass-Through," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1192-1230.
    2. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Mauricio Ulate, 2019. "Is Inflation Just Around the Corner? The Phillips Curve and Global Inflationary Pressures," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 109, pages 465-469, May.
    3. Matteo Bugamelli & Silvia Fabiani & Enrico Sette, 2015. "The Age of the Dragon: The Effect of Imports from China on Firm‐Level Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(6), pages 1091-1118, September.
    4. Claudia Macaluso & Brad Hershbein & Chen Yeh, 2019. "Concentration in U.S. local labor markets: evidence from vacancy and employment data," 2019 Meeting Papers 1336, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chi-Young Choi & Soojin Jo, 2020. "How Do Housing Markets Affect Local Consumer Prices? – Evidence from U.S. Cities," Globalization Institute Working Papers 398, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Raquel Carrasco & José Ignacio Garcia-Pérez & Juan Francisco Jimeno, 2020. "Worker Flows and Wage Dynamics: Estimating Wage Growth without Composition Effects," Working Papers 20.13, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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