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Open markets and advances in technology mean that more businesses feel that if they put their prices up, they will not only lose market share to domestic competitors but to foreign competitors as well. For some decades, workers in the manufacturing sectors in most industrialised economies have felt the pressure of competition from international trade.
Today, many workers in the services sectors are now also feeling this same pressure, as they too are exposed to the increased competitive pressure from globalisation and technology.
There are also concerns in some economies that inflation expectations have declined too far and are perhaps stuck at levels that are too low.
This is quite a different world to the one that has existed over the past half-century.
Nominal interest rates around the world have been at record low levels for some years and there has been extraordinary balance sheet expansion by a number of the world's major central banks.
Yet, at the same time, inflation rates in most advanced economies remain below target.
These low inflation outcomes globally and in Australia are coexisting with low wage outcomes. The first – and the most conventional – explanation is that the low inflation reflects the economic slack in the global economy.
In many industrialised countries, wage growth has been close to multi-decade lows and below what historical relationships with the unemployment rate would suggest. Economic growth has generally disappointed since the global financial crisis, weighed down by an overhang of debt.
Broad measures of labour utilisation continue to suggest ongoing slack, despite unemployment rates in some industrialised economies being the lowest in some decades.
Indeed, I am the first Governor of the RBA to have taken office where the concern of the day is more that inflation might turn out to be a bit too low rather than a bit too high.
This morning I would like to focus on three interrelated issues.
This increased value put on job security has made many workers less inclined to push for large wage rises.
So the low inflation outcomes in the advanced economies reflect a combination of three factors – excess capacity, lower commodity prices and perceptions of reduced pricing power.
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This third graph (Graph 3) shows inflation rates for Australia.