Working Paper

A Bayesian evaluation of alternative models of trend inflation

Abstract: The concept of trend inflation is important in making accurate inflation forecasts. However, there is little consensus on how the trend in inflation should be modeled. While some studies suggest a survey-based measure of long-run inflation expectations as a good empirical proxy for trend inflation, others have argued for a statistical exercise of decomposing inflation data into trend and cycle components. In this paper, we assess alternative models of trend inflation based on the accuracy of medium-term inflation forecasts. To incorporate recent evidence on the time-varying macroeconomic volatility, we consider models with both constant volatility and time-varying volatility. For all the models, we compare not only point predictions but also density forecasts, such as deflation probability. Our analysis yields two broad results. First, models with time-varying volatility consistently dominate those with constant volatility. Second, once time-varying volatility is incorporated, it is difficult to say that one model of trend inflation is better. Simply averaging forecasts with time-varying volatility is as good as forecasts from the best-fitting model. In addition, the relative performance of each model varies greatly over time. Overall, our results suggest that it is important to consider predictions from a range of models with time-varying volatility.

Keywords: Bayesian statistical decision theory; Inflation (Finance); Forecasting;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Part of Series: Research Working Paper

Publication Date: 2011

Number: RWP 11-16