Editors Note: The title of this post has been changed from the original. August 17, 2023, 10:35 a.m.
Inflation in the U.S. has experienced unusually large movements in the last few years, starting with a steep rise between the spring of 2021 and June 2022, followed by a relatively rapid decline over the past twelve months. This marks a stark departure from an extended period of low and stable inflation. Economists and policymakers have expressed differing views about which factors contributed to these large movements (as reported in the media here, here, here, and here), leading to fierce debates in policy circles, academic journals, and the press. We know little, however, about the consumer’s perspective on what caused these sudden movements in inflation. In this post, we explore this question using a special module of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) in which consumers were asked what they think contributed to the recent movements in inflation. We find that consumers think supply-side issues were the most important factor behind the 2021-22 inflation surge, while they regard Federal Reserve policies as the most important factor behind the recent and expected future decline in inflation.
What factors are behind the recent inflation surge has been a huge topic of debate amongst academics and policymakers. We know that pandemic-related supply constraints such as labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks have been key factors pushing inflation higher. These bottlenecks started with the pandemic (lockdowns, sick workers) and were made worse by the push arising from increased demand caused by very expansionary fiscal and monetary policy. Our analysis of the relative importance of supply-side versus demand-side factors finds 60 percent of U.S. inflation over the 2019-21 period was due to the jump in demand for goods while 40 percent owed to supply-side issues that magnified the impact of this higher demand.
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.
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.
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.
While the shocks from COVID-19 were concentrated in a handful of contact-intensive industries, they had rippling effects throughout the economy, which culminated in a considerable decline in U.S. GDP. In this post, we estimate how much of the fall in U.S. GDP during the pandemic was driven by spillover effects from the productivity losses of contact-intensive industries.
Global trade policy uncertainty has increased significantly, largely because of a changing tariff regime between the United States and China. In this blog post, we argue that trade policy can have a significant effect on firms’ organization of supply chains. When the probability of a trade war rises, firms become less likely to form long-term, just-in-time relationships with foreign suppliers, which may lead to higher costs and welfare losses for consumers. Our research shows that even in the absence of actual tariff changes, an increased likelihood of a trade war can significantly distort U.S. imports.