Working Paper

The Effects of Interest Rate Increases on Consumers' Inflation Expectations: The Roles of Informedness and Compliance

Abstract: We study how monetary policy communications associated with increasing the federal funds rate causally affect consumers' inflation expectations. In a large-scale, multi-wave randomized controlled trial (RCT), we find weak evidence on average that communicating policy changes lowers consumers' medium-term inflation expectations. However, information differs systematically across demographic groups, in terms of ex ante informedness about monetary policy and ex post compliance with the information treatment. Monetary policy communications have a much stronger effect on people who had not previously heard news about monetary policy and who take sufficient time to read the treatment, implying scope to increase the impact of communications by targeting specific groups of the general public. Our findings show that, in an inflationary environment, consumers expect that raising interest rates will lower inflation. More generally, our results emphasize the importance of measuring both respondents' information sets and their compliance with treatment when using RCTs in empirical macroeconomics, to better understand the well-documented evidence of heterogeneous treatment effects.

Keywords: expectations formation; policy communication; monetary policy; inflation; surveys;

JEL Classification: E31; E52; E58;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2024-01-03

Number: 24-01