Vizhdan Boranova, Raju Huidrom, Sylwia Nowak, Petia Topalova, Mr. Volodymyr Tulin, and Richard Varghese
Wages have been rising faster than productivity in many European countries for the past few years, yet signs of underlying consumer price pressures remain limited. To shed light on this puzzle, this paper examines the historical link between wage growth and inflation in Europe and factors that influence the strength of the passthrough from labor costs to prices. Historically, wage growth has led to higher inflation, but the impact has weakened since 2009. Empirical analysis suggests that the passthrough from wage growth to inflation is significantly lower in periods of subdued inflation and inflation expectations, greater competitive pressures, and robust corporate profitability. Thus the recent pickup in wage growth is likely to have a more muted impact on inflation than in the past.
While many advanced economies are experiencing slower growth, Norway’s output has continued to expand strongly, helped by a robust labor market, positive terms of trade, and some competitiveness gains. Core inflation has picked up to close to 2¼ percent. Residential house price growth has softened significantly but prices remain overvalued, and household debt continues to rise. Commercial real estate risks are also intensifying and combine with mounting external risks to cloud the outlook. The Christian Democrats have recently joined Prime Minister Solberg’s governing coalition, which now enjoys a majority in parliament.
Economic activity continued to expand
in the first half of 2018, albeit at a slower-than-expected pace, mainly in
advanced Europe. Domestic demand, supported by stronger employment and wages,
remains the main engine of growth. However, the external environment has become
less supportive and is expected to soften further in 2019 owing to slowing
global demand, trade tensions, and higher energy prices. Tighter financial
conditions in vulnerable emerging market economies and maturing business cycles
are also weighing on activity. Accordingly, growth is projected to moderate
from 2.8 percent in 2017 to 2.3 percent in 2018 and 1.9 percent in 2019. That
said, it is expected to remain above potential in most countries in the region.
This Selected Issues paper describes wages and competitiveness in Norway. Norway may have to downwardly revise its expectations for wage growth if it is to avoid a significant loss of competitiveness and manage the transition to a less oil-dependent economy. Norway was able to afford very high wage growth in the past (notwithstanding the noted challenges in several sectors) thanks to good fortune in its terms of trade. Going forward, it would be prudent not to count on being fortunate twice: wage moderation would help build resilience in case of less favorable trends in international prices. It would also help facilitate the needed transition out of oil by supporting sectors that did not benefit from past terms of trade gains. Communication from the government can continue to help in managing public expectations. Fiscal policy plays a key role in promoting competitiveness and containing the spending effect of Dutch Disease. After a prolonged expansion of fiscal policy—partly enabled by large valuation gains of the sovereign wealth fund—it is now appropriate to gradually start tightening fiscal policy. The ongoing up-cycle provides an ideal setting to get started on structural consolidation, which will ultimately be needed to face to address aging pressures.
House prices in many advanced economies have risen substantially in recent decades. But experience indicates that housing prices can diverge from their long-run equilibrium or sustainable levels, potentially followed by adjustments that impact macroeconomic and financial stability. Therefore there is a need to monitor house prices and assess whether they are sustainable. This paper focuses on fundamentals expected to drive long run trends in house prices, including institutional and structural factors. The scale of potential valuation gaps is gauged on the basis of a cross-country panel analysis of house prices in 20 OECD countries.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Norwegian economy is slowly recovering from the oil shock as domestic demand grew stronger aided by accommodative macroeconomic policies. Inflation declined recently owing to the pass-through of krone appreciation, but expectations remain well-anchored. In addition, banks remain profitable and well capitalized. Mainland growth is projected to increase from just below 1 percent in 2016 to 1.75 and 2.25 percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively, supported by the recovery of exports and stronger private demand. Inflation is projected to edge down further in pace with the unwinding of krone depreciation, before converging to the target over the medium term as trading-partner inflation rises.
The paper examines the nature and scale of spillovers to a number of European countries from monetary policies in the euro area and the United States using three different approaches. The analysis focuses on selected non-euro-area countries in Europe: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden. Recent developments in these countries’ sovereign bond yields and exchange rates are indicative of potential spillovers. The paper’s most consistent analytical finding is for spillovers to lower domestic bond yields, with the potential for repercussions on credit expansion and asset prices. More recently, the event study uncovered evidence of upward pressure on the exchange rate.