OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

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A genie in a bottle?

Globalisation, competition and inflation

Declining inflation in many countries over the past few decades at the same time as rising global competition has led to a debate on the importance of globalisation for domestic inflation. This paper explores the implications of global value chain (GVC) integration and market contestability for inflation using a range of industry-level and micro-data sources. We provide evidence that rising participation in GVCs has placed downward pressure on producer price inflation, by increasing the ability of firms to substitute domestic inputs with cheaper foreign equivalents. We investigate the channels, which suggests that increased GVC participation contributed to lower inflation via downward pressures on unit labour costs – by raising productivity and reducing wages – in the importing country, especially when low-wage countries are integrated in supply chains. We then present industry-level evidence to support the conjecture that a higher level of GVC integration dampens producer price inflation by accentuating the impact of global economic slack on domestic inflation. However, we also find an increasing trend in mark-ups, suggestive of rising market power, particularly in services sectors. Thus, looking forward, there is a risk that stalling globalisation since the crisis, coupled with stronger aggregate demand and declining market contestability, could lead to inflationary pressures in the medium term, thereby letting the inflation genie out of the bottle.


Keywords: competition, market power, inflation, globalisation
JEL: E31: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles / Price Level; Inflation; Deflation; L16: Industrial Organization / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance / Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics: Industrial Structure and Structural Change; Industrial Price Indices; F60: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization / Economic Impacts of Globalization: General
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