Phillipsova krivulja še ni (nujno) mrtva

Zadnjič sem v Sliki, ki razdvaja FED pisal o tem, da – kakorkoli nedorečena in problematična – je Phillipsova krivulja (PK) morda še najboljše “pravilo palca” za presojo glede potrebnega (ne)ukrepanja monetarne politike. Opozoril sem na številne različice PK. Ena izmed variant, ki je danes v ZDA lahko aktualna, je povezava med stopnjo rasti plač (plačna inflacija) in stopnjo participacije na trgu dela. Kot je pokazalo okrevanje ameriškega gospodarstva po letu 2009, se je stopnja brezposelnosti sicer dramatično zmanjšala, toda zaposlenost se ni ustrezno povečala. Mnogo ljudi se je namreč umaknilo v neaktivnost (upokojitev ali izbris iz evidenc). Zaradi tega Fed že vsaj dve leti kot dodatni indikator stanja na trgu dela (ob stopnji brezposelnosti) gleda stopnjo participacije na trgu dela. Tudi v včerajšnji odločitvi, da še ne dvigne obrestne mere, je bila primerjava obeh indikatorjev ključna (glejte argumentacijo v tiskovnem sporočilu).

Nick Bunker opisuje pomen tako opredeljene PK pri odločanju Fed, pri tem pa tudi on opozarja, da je pri presoji treba upoštevati aktualni kontekst. Od 1970-ih let, ko je bila PK zelo aktualna, se je namreč tudi trg dela zelo spremenil. Zmanjšala se je moč sindikatov, zato 5% stopnja brezposelnosti takrat nikakor ni ekvivalent sedanji 5% stopnji. Tedaj je 5% stopnja brezposelnosti pomenila, da se bo povečal pritisk na plače in na povišanje cen, ob šibki moči sindikatov pa je takšna bojazen danes bistveno manjša.

Seveda v ZDA, v Evropi takšnih tegob, da bi bilo treba višati obrestne mere, še nekaj časa ne bomo imeli.

To understand the changes in the overall inflation Phillips curve, it might be useful to look at another version of the curve: the relationship between unemployment and “wage inflation,” better known as wage growth. Now, that curve doesn’t look that great either, but that might be because the unemployment rate is currently overstating the health of the labor market. If we take a look at the relationship between wage growth and another measure of labor market slack, however, the relationship might hold up. Take a look at Figure 1:

Philipsova_3The graph shows the relationship between wage growth for production and non-supervisory workers, and the employment rate for prime-age workers six months prior. It clearly shows that when the labor market is tighter (when the employment rate is higher), wage growth is stronger.

In other words, the underlying idea of the wage Phillips curve still stands. It’s just a matter of using measures that fit the time.

As Matt Phillips (no relation to William presumably) points out in his Quartz piece on the curve, the labor market has changed quite a bit since the mid-1970s. He points specifically to the decline in the unionization rate, which is a sign of the decreasing bargaining power of labor in the economy. A 5 percent unemployment rate when labor is relatively much stronger, for example, is very different from a 5 percent unemployment rate when labor is on the back of its heels. Changes in the labor market might be a reason why increases in wages and salaries don’t pass through to overall inflation as much as we might have thought. Back when labor had more bargaining power, wage hikes would bite more into profits and therefore spur companies to raise prices. Now companies have more of a cushion, so a similar wage increase won’t necessarily lead to as strong of a price increase.

Context appears to very much matter. Policymakers will always need to create rules of thumb to help them make sense of an incredibly complex economy. But those rules need to be updated as the world changes.

Vir: Nick Bunker, Equitable Growth

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