The return of inflation

(, Vienna)

49th Economics Conference of the OeNB and 35th SUERF Colloquium

The Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) and SUERF – The European Money and Finance Forum will host a two-day conference dedicated to inflation on May 23 and 24, 2022. The event, which will take place both virtually via Webex and in person at the OeNB, will bring together around 35 leading experts from central banks, finance and academia.

After several years of persistently below-target inflation rates, global inflation has been increasing sharply since 2021. Several driving factors have been identified: the vigorous post-pandemic economic recovery; disruptions in global value chains for intermediate and final goods, due in part to short-term pandemic-related factors and in part to a possible reversal of globalization; cycles in commodity and energy production and prices, some of which may also be related to actual or anticipated climate protection measures; and labor market shortages resulting from pandemic-induced structural changes in labor demand and supply.

Whether the rising inflation rates are temporary or more permanent is the subject of lively debates. Among other things, the answer hinges on the reaction of expectations and wages to the rise in headline inflation. Central banks worldwide have come under pressure to tighten their policy rates. The risk of missing the right moment for a timely response and of inflation becoming entrenched contrasts with concerns of strangling the economic recovery from the COVID-19 shock amid the fallout of the war in Ukraine and the Western sanctions against Russia. At a political economy level, the interplay between monetary policy, fiscal policies and financial stability has become more complicated as high debt, high asset market valuations and climate challenges potentially hamper central banks’ perceived anti-inflationary resolve.

The conference brings together around 35 top expert speakers and decision-makers from central banking, finance and academia. OeNB Governor Robert Holzmann and SUERF President Jakob de Haan will set the stage with their opening remarks on Monday afternoon (May 23). In his keynote lecture, Manoj Pradhan, Chief Economist and Founder of Talking Heads Macro Ltd, will analyze secular inflation trends in the 2020s. A panel of top economists from the ECB, Amundi, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago will discuss what role inflation expectations play for the path of inflation, what drives them and whose inflation expectations should be monitored. The afternoon will close with a high-level panel, moderated by Governor Holzmann, on “Monetary policy, policy interaction and inflation in a post-pandemic world with severe geopolitical tensions”, with Tobias Adrian, Financial Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, Claudio Borio, Head of the BIS’ Monetary and Economic Department and SUERF Fellow, and Joachim Nagel, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank. Martin Selmayr, Head of the European Commission’s Representation to Austria, will present his take on current and future key European policy issues.

The second conference day (May 24) will offer the opportunity to learn about key findings in cutting-edge academic research from around the world on two themes central to the current inflation debate. Session A will be devoted to households’ and firms’ inflation perceptions and expectations, and session B will discuss how to improve inflation modeling and forecasting, and how the relationship between economic growth and inflation (the so-called Phillips curve) has changed over time.

The afternoon will start off with the SUERF Marjolin Lecture, in which Professor Harold James from Princeton University will offer a long-term perspective of the relationship between inflation and (de)globalization. His lecture will be followed by the award of this year’s SUERF Marjolin Prize for outstanding research in money and finance. Top speakers from the ECB, the Bank of Canada, the OeNB, the OECD, the International Energy Agency and Blackrock will round off the conference, discussing the implications of climate change and climate protection for inflation, and evaluating how the analysis of detailed price data on the micro level can enhance our understanding of inflation.

For the full conference program and registration please see the organizing institutions’ websites.