At a time of soaring price increases in the United States, inflation in the US import sector has been soaring the most. Import price inflation in the first half of 2022 was in the double digits, above US consumer price index and personal consumption expenditures inflation. Excess demand for certain imported goods is playing a big role, but so are supply shortages caused by temporary business closures overseas and shipping delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Correctly identifying the culprit for misaligned demand and supply, and hence rising prices, is central to understanding the type and extent of policy intervention needed. Using movements in prices and quantities of specific goods, the analysis presented in this Policy Brief shows that the increase in import price inflation has been driven to the same or a greater extent by demand compared with supply constraints. The results have important implications for policies to help reduce the supply and demand imbalance and thus tame inflation.
The data underlying this analysis can be downloaded here [zip].