HKS Affiliated Authors


September 7, 2022, Opinion: "The scariest economics paper of 2022 argues that labor markets remain extremely tight, underlying inflation is high and possibly rising, and several years of very high unemployment may be necessary to get inflation under control. The paper is a painstaking empirical exploration by Johns Hopkins macroeconomist Larry Ball with co-authors Daniel Leigh and Prachi Mishra of the International Monetary Fund released by the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. It shows why the Federal Reserve will likely need to maintain its war on inflation, even if unemployment continues to rise.  Economists use labor market slack to help predict inflation. Typically they look at the unemployment rate, but using the ratio of job openings to unemployment to measure labor market slack offers a clearer picture. Analysts who focused solely on the unemployment rate mistakenly believed the labor market still had substantial slack in 2021 and deemed wage and price inflation transitory. The big burst of inflation that followed left them scratching their heads. Messrs. Ball, Leigh and Mishra find that labor-market tightness itself added 3.4 percentage points to underlying inflation in July 2022." Read Via the Wall Street Journal

HKS Faculty Author - Jason Furman