Supply chain disruptions continue to be a major challenge as the world economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, recent developments related to geopolitics and the pandemic (particularly in China) could put further strains on global supply chains. In a January post, we first presented the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (GSCPI), a parsimonious global measure designed to capture supply chain disruptions using a range of indicators. We revisited our index in March, and today we are launching the GSCPI as a standalone product, with new readings to be published each month. In this post, we review GSCPI readings through April 2022 and briefly discuss the drivers of recent moves in the index.
As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, a combination of strong demand, severe supply disruptions, widespread labor shortages, and surging energy prices has contributed to a rapid increase in inflation. Indeed, the inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has exceeded 8 percent over the past year, the fastest pace of price increase since the early 1980s. If businesses and consumers expect inflation to be high in the future because it is elevated today, they may change their behavior accordingly, which can make inflation even more persistent. In other words, expectations about the path of future inflation can affect how current inflation will actually evolve. In particular, among businesses, expectations about future inflation can shape how they set wages and prices. Our May regional business surveys asked firms what they expected inflation to be one year, three years, and five years from now. Responses indicate that while businesses, like consumers, expect high inflation to continue over the next year, such elevated levels of inflation are not expected to persist over longer time horizons.
Tight inventories of homes for sale combined with strong demand pushed up national house prices by an eye-popping 19 percent, year over year, in January 2022. This surge in house prices created concerns that first-time buyers would increasingly be priced out of owning a home. However, using our Consumer Credit Panel, which is based on anonymized Equifax credit report data, we find that the share of purchase mortgages going to first-time buyers actually increased slightly from 2020 to 2021.
The surge in inflation since early 2021 has sparked intense debate. Would it be short-lived or prove to be persistent? Would it be concentrated within a few sectors or become broader? The answers to these questions are not so clear-cut. In our view, one should ask how much of the inflation is persistent and how much of it is broad-based. In this post, we address this question through a quantitative lens. We find that the large ups and downs in inflation over the course of 2020 were largely the result of transitory shocks, often sector-specific. In contrast, sometime in the fall of 2021, inflation dynamics became dominated by the trend component, which is persistent and largely common across sectors.
Supply chain disruptions continue to be a major challenge as the world economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a January post, we presented the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (GSCPI) as a parsimonious global measure that encompasses several indicators used to capture supply chain disruptions. The main purpose of this post is to provide an update of the GSCPI through February 2022. In addition, we use the index’s underlying data to discuss the drivers of recent moves in the GSCPI. Finally, these data are used to create country-specific supply chain pressures indices.
After a sharp decline in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation rebounded in the second half of 2020 and surged through 2021. This post analyzes the drivers of these developments through the lens of the New York Fed DSGE model. Its main finding is that the recent rise in inflation is mostly accounted for by a large cost-push shock that occurred in the second quarter of 2021 and whose inflationary effects persist today. Based on the model’s reading of historical data, this shock is expected to fade gradually over the course of 2022, returning quarterly inflation to close to 2 percent only in mid-2023.
U.S. inflation has surged as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 recession. This phenomenon has not been confined to the U.S. economy, as similar inflationary pressures have emerged in other advanced economies albeit not with the same intensity. In this post, we draw from the current international experiences to provide an assessment of the drivers of U.S. inflation. In particular, we exploit the link among different measures of inflation at the country level and a number of global supply side variables to uncover which common cross-country forces have been driving observed inflation. Our main finding is that global supply factors are very strongly associated with recent producer price index (PPI) inflation across countries, as well as with consumer price index (CPI) goods inflation, both historically and during the recent bout of inflation acceleration.
The prices of U.S. imported goods, excluding fuel, have increased by 6 percent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. Around half of this increase is due to the substantial rise in the prices of imported industrial supplies, up nearly 30 percent. In this post, we consider the implications of the increase in import prices on U.S. industry inflation rates. In particular, we highlight how rising prices of imported intermediate inputs, like industrial supplies, can have amplified effects through the U.S. economy by increasing the production cost of goods that rely heavily on these inputs.
Recent inflationary pressures in the global economy have rekindled the debate on the link between money growth and price stability. Specifically, does rapid central bank money creation resulting from large-scale purchases of government securities fuel inflationary spending by households and firms? We argue that there are many valid reasons to be skeptical about this textbook narrative. In this post, we look at the international experience with regard to asset purchases, money growth, and inflation dynamics in the pre-COVID era in an attempt to draw lessons from the recent past. Most notably, we find that the view that large-scale purchases of sovereign debt cause unmanageable inflationary pressures is not supported by the experiences of foreign advanced economies. As a matter of fact, despite the extent and duration of the quantitative easing programs in those economies, central banks faced challenges in achieving their inflation objectives.
Oil prices have increased by nearly 60 percent since the summer of 2020, coinciding with an upward trend in global inflation. If higher oil prices are the result of constrained supply, then this could pose some stagflation risks to the growth outlook—a concern reflected in a June Financial Times article, “Why OPEC Matters.” In this post, we utilize the demand and supply decomposition from the New York Fed’s Oil Price Dynamics Report to argue that most of the oil price increase over the past year or so has reflected improving global demand expectations. We then illustrate what these changing global demand expectations might mean for near-term global inflation developments.