The length of the recovery since the Great Recession and the low reported levels of the unemployment rate in the U.S. are increasingly generating concerns about inflationary pressures. We document that an expectations-augmented Phillips curve can account for inflation not just in the U.S. but across a range of countries, once household or firm-level inflation expectations are used. Given this relationship, we can infer the dynamics of slack from the dynamics of inflation gaps and vice versa. We find that the implied slack was pushing inflation below expectations in the years after the Great Recession but the global and U.S. inflation gaps have shrunk in recent years thus suggesting tighter economic conditions. While we find no evidence that inflation is on the brink of rising, the sustained deflationary pressures following the Great Recession have abated.
The fact that declines in output since the Great Recession have been parlayed into equivalent declines in measures of potential output is commonly interpreted as implying that output will not return to previous trends. We show that real-time estimates of potential output for the United States and other countries respond gradually and similarly to both transitory and permanent shocks to output. Observing revisions in measures of potential output therefore tells us little about whether changes in actual output will be permanent. Some alternative methodologies to estimate potential output can avoid these shortcomings. These approaches suggest a much more limited decline in potential output since the Great Recession.