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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 ...
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 ...
Is a Nonseasonally Adjusted Median CPI a Useful Signal of Trend Inflation?
Since controlling inflation is a central monetary policy goal, monetary policymakers focus intently on inflation signals. But they face a major difficulty: inflation data contain a lot of transitory shocks. The presence of the transitory ?noise? in inflation data makes it difficult to detect early warnings of sustained movements. Responding to these transitory shocks would be a bad idea, because doing so would translate into policy swings and reversals and introduce uncertainty and volatility into the economy. Instead, policymakers attempt to respond to the sustained movements in ...
A Theory of Sticky Rents: Search and Bargaining with Incomplete Information
The housing rental market offers a unique laboratory for studying price stickiness. This paper is motivated by two facts: 1. Tenants? rents are remarkably sticky even though regular and expected recontracting would, by itself, suggest substantial rent flexibility. 2. Rent stickiness varies significantly across structure type; for example, detached unit rents are far stickier than large apartment unit rents. We offer the first theoretical explanation of rent stickiness that is consistent with these facts. In this theory, search and bargaining with incomplete information generates stickiness in ...
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 significantly: ...
Persistence Dependence in Empirical Relations: The Velocity of Money
Standard theory predicts persistence dependence in numerous economic relationships. (For example, persistence dependence is precisely the kind of nonlinear relationship posited in the Permanent Income Hypothesis; persistence dependence is the inverse of ?frequency dependence? in a relationship.) Until recently, however, it was challenging to achieve credible inference about persistence dependence in an economic relationship using available methods. However, recently developed econometric tools (Ashley and Verbrugge, 2009a) allow one to elegantly quantify the variation in a time-series ...
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.
The Intermittent Phillips Curve: Finding a Stable (But Persistence-Dependent) Phillips Curve Model Specification
We establish that the Phillips curve is persistence-dependent: inflation responds differently to persistent versus moderately persistent (or versus transient) fluctuations in the unemployment rate gap. This persistence-dependent relationship appears to align with business-cycle stages and is thus consistent with existing theory. Previous work fails to model this dependence, thereby finding numerous "inflation puzzles" – e.g., missing inflation/disinflation – noted in the literature. Our specification eliminates these puzzles; for example, the Phillips curve has not weakened, nor was ...
Whose Inflation Expectations Best Predict Inflation?
We examine the predictive relationship between various measures of inflation expectations and future inflation. We find that the expectations of professional economists and of businesses have tended to provide more accurate predictions of future inflation than the expectations of households and of financial market participants. However, the forecasts coming from a relatively simple and popular benchmark inflation forecasting model have historically been roughly as accurate as the expectations of businesses and professional economists.