Unclear whether digital revolution lowers prices - survey

November 7, 2018 by David Mchugh
Unclear whether digital revolution lowers prices - survey
Shoppers walk by a promotion by Alibaba's Tmall online shopping platform for the upcoming 10th Singles Day event in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. What begun in the 90s by Chinese college students as a version of Valentine's Day for people without romantic partners to splurge on themselves, the day of sales promotion has grown into the world's biggest e-commerce event. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A new survey suggests the digital technologies sweeping through the corporate world could mean some job losses at big companies, but it's unclear what impact they will have on consumer prices.

Retailers told the European Central Bank, which carried out the survey, that e-commerce should lower prices for shoppers. But producers of goods foresaw more chances to raise prices thanks to new technologies such as 3D printing and internet-connected devices.

The bank asked 74 of the biggest companies in Europe how the think new technologies are likely to affect the economy in coming years.

On balance, the businesses saw digitalization having a "small negative impact" on jobs, while shifting labor needs from low-skilled to high-skill employees.

The ECB probed the price issue because its mission is to keep inflation under control near its goal of just under 2 percent. Central banks and economists have struggled to understand why inflation has only responded slowly to years of stimulus like low interest rates and money injections into the economy.

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