The CPI–PCEPI Inflation Differential: Causes and Prospects
The Federal Open Market Committee’s inflation target is stated in terms of the personal consumption expenditures price index (PCEPI). The PCEPI, like the consumer price index (CPI), measures inflation in the expenditures of households, but these indexes differ in purpose, scope, and construction. Notably, since the CPI is used as the reference rate for numerous financial contracts, one can derive implied longer-run CPI inflation forecasts from financial contracts. Such forecasts are widely reported. But if policymakers are to use these forecasts to guide their pursuit of the inflation ...
All Fluctuations Are Not Created Equal: The Differential Roles of Transitory versus Persistent Changes in Driving Historical Monetary Policy
The historical analysis of FOMC behavior using estimated simple policy rules requires the specification of either an estimated natural rate of unemployment or an output gap. But in the 1970s, neither output gap nor natural rate estimates appear to guide FOMC deliberations. This paper uses the data to identify the particular implicit unemployment rate gap (if any) that is consistent with FOMC behavior. While its ability appears to have improved over time, our results indicate that, both before the Volcker period and through the Bernanke period, the FOMC distinguished persistent movements in ...
Finding a Stable Phillips Curve Relationship: A Persistence-Dependent Regression Mode
We establish that the Phillips curve is persistence-dependent: inflation responds differently to persistent versus moderately persistent (or versus transient) fluctuations in the unemployment gap. Previous work fails to model this dependence, so it finds numerous “inflation puzzles”—such as missing inflation/disinflation—noted in the literature. Our model specification eliminates these puzzles; for example, the Phillips curve has not weakened, and inflation is not “stubbornly low” at present. The model’s coefficients are stable, and it provides accurate conditional recursive ...
Location, Location, Structure Type: Rent Divergence within Neighborhoods
Housing rents are a large share of household budgets and make a large contribution to overall inflation. Rent inflation rates for different types of housing units sometimes diverge, even in the same neighborhoods. We estimate during 2013 to 2016 apartment rents outpaced rents for detached housing in the United States by 0.76 percentage points annually after controlling for location effects. These rent dynamics imply a segmented housing market. They also suggest rent indexes need to be based on data structurally representative of their measurement objective. In particular, indexes based on ...
A New Tool for Robust Estimation and Identification of Unusual Data Points
Most consistent estimators are what Müller (2007) terms “highly fragile”: prone to total breakdown in the presence of a handful of unusual data points. This compromises inference. Robust estimation is a (seldom-used) solution, but commonly used methods have drawbacks. In this paper, building on methods that are relatively unknown in economics, we provide a new tool for robust estimates of mean and covariance, useful both for robust estimation and for detection of unusual data points. It is relatively fast and useful for large data sets. Our performance testing indicates that our baseline ...
Panel Data Estimates of Age-Rent Profiles for Rental Housing
This paper provides estimates of the net depreciation rate for rental housing using a unique confidential data set from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that covers over 30,000 rental units from 1998 to 2009. Our data and econometric approach allow us to add to the literature in three main ways. First, we can control for unobserved quality (including cohort effects) by allowing for unit-specific fixed effects. Our results suggest that estimates of the depreciation rate for rental housing that ignore unobserved heterogeneity suffer from omitted-variable bias and potentially from selection bias, ...
Late Payment Fees and Nonpayment in Rental Markets, and Implications for Inflation Measurement: Theoretical Considerations and Evidence
tatistical agencies track rental expenditures for use in the national accounts and in consumer price indexes (CPIs). As such, statistical agencies should include late payment fees and nonpayment in rent. In the US context, late payment fees are excluded from the CPI. Ostensibly, nonpayment of rent is included in the US CPI; but its treatment is deficient, and we demonstrate that small variations in nonpayment could lead to large swings in shelter inflation, and might have played a role in the 2009 measured shelter inflation collapse. They didn’t: while the national nonpayment incidence is ...
Behavior of a New Median PCE Measure: A Tale of Tails
We introduce two new measures of trend inflation, a median PCE inflation rate and a median PCE excluding OER inflation rate, and investigate their performance. Our analysis indicates that both perform comparably to other simple trend inflation estimators such as the trimmed-mean PCE. Furthermore, we find that the performance of the median PCE is related to skewness in the distribution of cross-sectional growth rates across categories in the PCE, and our results suggest that the Bowley skewness statistic may be useful in forecasting.
Digging into the Downward Trend in Consumer Inflation Expectations
Since mid-2014, the long-run inflation expectations of consumers have been declining. Many commentators blame the decline on gasoline prices, which have also been falling since that time, but we argue that this explanation is incomplete. We analyze University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers microdata and find that a decline in uncertainty about future inflation is a modest part of the story over this period?but it represents the entire story when considering changes in expectations since 2012.
Determinants of Differential Rent Changes: Mean Reversion versus the Usual Suspects
We study 2001-2004 and 2004-2007 rent growth of 18,000 rental units, ending our study prior to the Great Recession. Which variables correlate with rent growth: Location? Age? Rent level? Occupancy duration? Structure type? The answers deepen understanding of the rental market, help statistical agencies make decisions about sample stratification and substitution, and expose coverage problems. We document significant rent stickiness. Initial relative rent level is the best predictor, though mainly due to mean reversion. "Location" comes in second, though often not statistically ...