Oil Prices, Monetary Policy and Inflation Surges
We develop a simple quantitative New Keynesian model aimed at accounting for the recent sudden and persistent rise in inflation, with emphasis on the role of oil shocks and accommodative monetary policy. The model features oil as a complementary good for households and as a complementary input for firms. It also allows for unemployment and real wage rigidity. We estimate the key parameters by matching model impulse responses to those from identified money and oil shocks in a structural VAR. We then show that our model does a good job of explaining unemployment and inflation since 2010, including the recent inflation surge that began in mid 2021. We show that mainly accounting for this surge was a combination oil price shocks and “easy” monetary policy, even after allowing for demand shocks and shocks to labor market tightness. Important for the quantitative impact of the oil price shock is a low elasticity of substitution between oil and labor, which we estimate to be the case.
We have no sources of funding that would create a conflict of interest. We thank Jordi Gali, Diego Känzig, Jonathan Hazell and Carolin Pflueger for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.