Friday 14 June 2024

Supply Shocks and Stagflation

Box: Supply Shocks and Stagflation

If a supply shock is sufficiently large or persistent, it not only causes cost‑push inflation, but can noticeably reduce both the current and potential level of output in an economy. In this case, there can be the unusual combination of a period of ‘stagnation’ as output declines at the same time that prices are rising. This combination of stagnant growth – with high or rising unemployment – and high inflation is referred to as stagflation. Stagflation can become entrenched when inflation expectations are not well anchored.

The 1970s were a period of stagflation that featured two oil price shocks. In October 1973, the members of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), as well as Egypt and Syria, imposed an oil embargo on industrial nations that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War of the same period. The embargo resulted in a quadrupling of oil prices and energy rationing, culminating in a global recession in which unemployment and inflation surged simultaneously. Central banks did not target inflation at this time, and this was the start of a prolonged period of high inflation in many economies.

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