We estimate the effect of global supply chain disruptions on inflation for a panel of 28 European countries. Adverse shocks have a stronger and more persistent effect than favorable shocks.
Disruptions to global supply chains, e.g. due to natural disasters and lockdowns, are considered a major driver of the drastic increase in inflation in Europe and other advanced economies after the COVID-19 pandemic. The evidence (Carrière-Swallow et al., 2023, Burriel et al., 2023, Ascari et al., 2023, Laumer, 2023, Khalil and Weber, 2022, Finck and Tillmann, 2023, Finck et al., 2023, Liu and Nguyen, 2023, Elsayed et al., 2023, De Santis, 2023) suggests that supply chain shocks indeed have a significant effect on inflation.
More recently, supply bottlenecks eased and indices of supply chain conditions (Benigno et al., 2022) are back at pre-pandemic levels. However, inflation remains high. The Economist (2023) asks: “Supply chains are back to normal. Why is inflation still so high?” This note provides one potential answer to this question. We estimate local projections for a panel of 28 European economies between 2010 and 2023 in order to quantify the effect of a supply chain disruption on headline inflation, core inflation and producer price inflation. The supply chain shock we use is the purified change in the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (Benigno et al., 2022). Importantly, we allow positive, i.e. restrictive, and negative, i.e. expansionary, shocks to have different absolute effect sizes.
This note showed that the inflationary effects of disruptions to global supply chains are asymmetric. An increase in supply chain stress strongly contributes to the increase of inflation as seen after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an easing of supply chain pressure contributes much less to the decline of inflation. Hence, our results provide one potential answer to the question asked by The Economist (2023).
Of course, asymmetric supply chain shocks are just one potential explanation of persistent inflation rates despite an easing of supply chain conditions. A tendency to de-globalize supply chains could raises costs even as shipping conditions normalize. Inflation could also remain elevated due to second-round effects of the initial spike in energy prices and costs of intermediate goods on wages. In addition, a shortage of labor post-Covid might also prevent inflation from returning to low levels. Finally, the sectoral shift of demand during the pandemic from services to goods is still visible in the data, which causes inflationary pressure in the presence of frictions.