What Is Driving the Recent Rise in Consumer Inflation Expectations?
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers (the “Michigan Survey” hereafter) is the main source of information regarding consumers’ expectations of future inflation in the United States. The most recent release of the Michigan Survey on March 25 drew considerable attention because it showed a large spike in year-ahead expectations for inflation: as shown in the chart below, the median rose from 3.4 to 4.6 percent and the other quartiles of responses showed similar increases. What may have caused this rise in inflation expectations and what lessons should be taken ...
Inflation Expectations and Behavior: Do Survey Respondents Act on Their Beliefs?
Surveys of consumers’ inflation expectations are now a key component of monetary policy. To date, however, little work has been done on 1) whether individual consumers act on their beliefs about future inflation, and 2) whether the inflation expectations elicited by these surveys are actually informative about the respondents’ beliefs. In this post, we report on a new study by Armantier, Bruine de Bruin, Topa, van der Klaauw, and Zafar (2010) that investigates these two issues by comparing consumers’ survey-based inflation expectations with their behavior in a financially incentivized ...
Is There Stigma to Discount Window Borrowing?
The Federal Reserve employs the discount window (DW) to provide funding to fundamentally solvent but illiquid banks (see the March 30 post “Why Do Central Banks Have Discount Windows?”). Historically, however, there has been a low level of DW use by banks, even when they are faced with severe liquidity shortages, raising the possibility of a stigma attached to DW borrowing. If DW stigma exists, it is likely to inhibit the Fed’s ability to act as lender of last resort and prod banks to turn to more expensive sources of financing when they can least afford it. In this post, we provide ...
History of Discount Window Stigma
In August 2007, at the onset of the recent financial crisis, the Federal Reserve encouraged banks to borrow from the discount window (DW) but few did so. This lack of DW borrowing has been widely attributed to stigma--concerns that, if discount borrowing were detected, depositors, creditors, and analysts could interpret it as a sign of financial weakness. In this post, we review the history of the DW up until 2003, when the current DW regime was established, and argue that some past policies may have inadvertently contributed to a reluctance to borrow from the DW that persists to this day.
Which Households Have Negative Wealth?
At some point in its life a household?s total debt may exceed its total assets, in which case it has ?negative wealth.? Even if this status is temporary, it may affect the household?s ability to save for durable goods, restrict access to further credit, and may require living in a state of limited consumption. Detailed analysis of the holdings of negative-wealth households, however, is a topic that has received little attention. In particular, relatively little is known about the characteristics of such households or about what drives negative wealth. A better understanding of these factors ...
How Do People Revise Their Inflation Expectations?
The New York Fed started releasing results from its Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) three years ago, in June 2013. The SCE is a monthly, nationally representative, internet-based survey of a rotating panel of about 1,300 household heads. Its goal, as described in a series of Liberty Street Economics posts, is to collect timely and high-quality information on consumer expectations about a broad range of topics, covering both macroeconomic variables and the households' own situation. In this post, we look at what drives changes in consumer inflation expectations. Do people respond to ...
The price is right: updating of inflation expectations in a randomized price information experiment
Understanding the formation of consumer inflation expectations is considered crucial for managing monetary policy. This paper investigates how consumers form and update their inflation expectations using a unique ?information? experiment embedded in a survey. We first elicit respondents? expectations for future inflation either in their own consumption basket or for the economy overall. We then randomly provide a subset of respondents with inflation-relevant information: either past-year food price inflation, or a median professional forecast of next-year overall inflation. Finally, inflation ...
Auctions implemented by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the Great Recession
During the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve implemented several novel programs to address adverse conditions in financial markets. Three of these temporary programs relied on an auction mechanism: the Term Auction Facility, the Term Securities Lending Facility, and the disposition of the Maiden Lane II portfolio. These auctions differed from one another in several dimensions: their objectives, rules, and the financial asset being traded. The object of this paper is to document, compare, and provide a rationale for the mechanics of the different auctions implemented by the Federal Reserve ...
An overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations
This report presents an overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations, a new monthly online survey of a rotating panel of household heads. The survey collects timely information on consumers? expectations and decisions on a broad variety of topics, including but not limited to inflation, household finance, the labor market, and the housing market. There are three main goals of the survey: (1) measuring consumer expectations at a high frequency, (2) understanding how these expectations are formed, and (3) investigating the link between expectations and behavior. This report discusses the ...
Inflation expectations and behavior: Do survey respondents act on their beliefs?
We compare the inflation expectations reported by consumers in a survey with their behavior in a financially incentivized investment experiment designed such that future inflation affects payoffs. The inflation expectations survey is found to be informative in the sense that the beliefs reported by the respondents are correlated with their choices in the experiment. Furthermore, most respondents appear to act on their inflation expectations showing patterns consistent (both in direction and magnitude) with expected utility theory. Respondents whose behavior cannot be rationalized tend to be ...