Inflation during the pandemic: What happened? What is next?

Author name: 
Ha J
Kose MA
Ohnsorge F

We analyze the evolution and drivers of inflation during the pandemic and the likely trajectory of inflation in the near-term using an event study of inflation around global recessions and a factor-augmented vector auto-regression (FAVAR) model. We report three main results. First, the decline in global inflation during the 2020 global recession was the most muted and shortest-lived of any of the five global recessions over the past 50 years and the increase in inflation since May 2020 has been the fastest. Second, the decline in global inflation from January-May 2020 was four-fifths driven by the collapse in global demand and another one-fifth driven by plunging oil prices, with some offsetting inflationary pressures from supply disruptions. The subsequent surge in inflation has been mostly driven by a sharp increase in global demand. Third, both model-based forecasts and current inflation expectations point to an increase in inflation for 2021 of just over 1 percentage point. For virtually all advanced economies and one-half of inflation-targeting emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), an increase of this magnitude would leave inflation within target ranges. If the increase is temporary and inflation expectations remain well-anchored, it may not warrant a monetary policy response. If, however, inflation expectations risk becoming unanchored, EMDE central banks may be compelled to tighten monetary policy before the recovery is fully entrenched.

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