How Much Slack Is in the Labor Market? That Depends on What You Mean by Slack
Estimates of labor market slack can diverge a great deal depending on how slack is defined. We calculate slack using five different concepts that all focus on a single labor market indicator, the unemployment rate. We show that the estimates all provide useful?but different?information. We argue that choosing the best measure of slack depends on the question being asked. If the question is, ?Has the unemployment rate reached its longer-run normal level?? then our answer is, ?Almost.? But significant uncertainty surrounds the estimates; and others may wish to consider additional labor market ...
Federal Funds Rates Based on Seven Simple Monetary Policy Rules
Monetary policymakers often use simple monetary policy rules, like the Taylor rule, as an input into their decision-making. However, there are many different simple rules, and there is no agreement on a single ?best? rule. We look at the federal funds rates coming from seven simple rules and three economic forecasts to investigate the range of results that can be produced. While there are some commonalities, we document that the differences in the federal funds rates suggested by the rules can be quite pronounced.
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 ...
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 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...