DP15387 Offshoring and Inflation
Did trade integration suppress inflation in the United States? We say no, in contradiction to the conventional wisdom. Our answer leverages two basic facts about the rise of trade: offshoring accounts for a large share of it, and it was a long-lasting, phased-in shock. Incorporating these features into a New Keynesian model, we show trade integration was inflationary. This result continues to hold when we extend the model to account for US trade deficits, the pro-competitive effects of trade on domestic markups, and cross-sector heterogeneity in trade integration in a multisector model. Further, using the multisector model, we demonstrate that neither cross-sector evidence on trade and prices, nor aggregate time series price level decompositions are informative about the impact of trade on inflation.