Economic Policy Review

Is There an Inflation Puzzle?

December 1997Volume 3, Number 4
JEL classification: C22, C52, E32

Authors: Cara S. Lown and Robert W. Rich

Why has U.S. inflation failed to accelerate despite six years of continuing economic expansion. The authors investigate whether compensation growth has played a role, either as a temporary restraint on inflation or as the underlying source of a new inflation regime. They offer two pieces of evidence suggesting that compensation growth has in fact acted as a temporary curb on rising prices. First, they show that the forecasting performance of a traditional Phillips curve model begins to break down in late 1993. When a measure of compensation growth is incorporated, however, the stability of the model is restored. Second, they show that the slowdown in compensation growth appears to be temporary and was unusually severe from late 1992 to early 1995, a period that roughly coincides with the breakdown in their traditional model.

PDF full articlePDF19 pages / 108 kb