Tracking Trend Inflation: Nonseasonally Adjusted Variants of the Median and Trimmed-Mean CPI
We make five contributions. We demonstrate that extant trimmed-mean and median CPI construction procedures depart from Bureau of Labor Statistics index construction procedures, and that the departures don't make much of a difference. We produce nonseasonally adjusted variants of the trimmed-mean CPI and median CPI, and demonstrate that these are useful real-time estimates of trend inflation; the NSA median CPI outperforms the median CPI, but both SA and NSA variants of the median and the trimmed-mean CPI easily dominate the so-called "core" CPI. We introduce superior ex post measures of trend ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Thinking Outside the Box: Do SPF Respondents Have Anchored Inflation Expectations?
Despite the stability of the median 10-year inflation expectations in the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) near 2 percent, we show that not a single SPF respondent?s expectations have been anchored at the target since the Federal Open Market Committee?s (FOMC) enactment of an inflation target in January 2012, or even since 2015. However, we find significant evidence for ?delayed anchoring,? or a move toward being anchored, particularly after the federal funds rate lifted off in December 2015.
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 ...
Frequency Dependence in a Real-Time Monetary Policy Rule
We estimate a monetary policy rule for the US allowing for possible frequency dependence?i.e., allowing the central bank to respond differently to more persistent innovations than to more transitory innovations, in both the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. Our estimation method uses real-time data in these rates?as did the FOMC?and requires no a priori assumptions on the pattern of frequency dependence or on the nature of the processes generating either the data or the natural rate of unemployment. Unlike other approaches, our estimation method allows for possible feedback in the ...
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 ...
Is It Time to Reassess the Focal Role of Core PCE Inflation?
In this paper, I review the history of “core” PCE inflation and its rationale: remove volatile items with transitory shocks to better highlight the trend in inflation. Structural changes in the inflation process imply that, on a “reducing volatility” basis, the list of items excluded from the “core” inflation basket (aside from gasoline) is far from optimal. This is true whether one assesses volatility on the basis of a weighted component monthly, or an index monthly, or a 12-month index, or a 5-year index. In addition, I demonstrate other deficiencies of exclusion indexes. ...