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Author:Verbrugge, Randal J. 

Working Paper
The Effect of Component Disaggregation on Measures of the Median and Trimmed-Mean CPI

For decades, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (FRBC) has produced median and trimmed-mean consumer price index (CPI) measures. These have proven useful in various contexts, such as forecasting and understanding post-COVID inflation dynamics. Revisions to the FRBC methodology have historically involved increasing the level of disaggregation in the CPI components, which has improved accuracy. Thus, it may seem logical that further disaggregation would continue to enhance its accuracy. However, we theoretically demonstrate that this may not necessarily be the case. We then explore the ...
Working Papers , Paper 24-02

Working Paper
Disentangling rent index differences: data, methods, and scope

Rent measurement determines 32 percent of the CPI. Accurate rent measurement is therefore essential for accurate inflation measurement, but the CPI rent index often differs from alternative measures of rent inflation. Using repeat-rent inflation measures created from CPI microdata, we show that this discrepancy is largely explained by differences in rent growth for new tenants relative to all tenants. New-tenant rent inflation provides information about future all-tenant rent inflation, but the use of new-tenant rents is contraindicated in a cost-of-living index such as the CPI. Nevertheless, ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-38R

Working Paper
Post-COVID Inflation Dynamics: Higher for Longer

We implement a novel nonlinear structural model featuring an empirically-successful frequency-dependent and asymmetric Phillips curve; unemployment frequency components interact with three components of core PCE – core goods, housing, and core services ex-housing – and a variable capturing supply shocks. Forecast tests verify model’s accuracy in its unemployment-inflation tradeoffs, crucial for monetary policy. Using this model, we assess the plausibility of the December 2022 Summary of Economic Projections (SEP). By 2025Q4, the SEP projects 2.1 percent inflation; however, conditional ...
Working Papers , Paper 23-06R

Journal Article
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 ...
Economic Commentary , Issue Oct

Working Paper
Late Payment Fees and Nonpayment in Rental Markets, and Implications for Inflation Measurement: Theoretical Considerations and Evidence

Accurate rent measurement is essential for constructing a consumer price index (CPI) and for measuring household welfare. Late payment fees and nonpayment of rent are common components of rental expenditures and thus belong in CPIs. Late payment fees are often excluded; we offer a novel critique. In the US CPI, nonpayment is ostensibly included, but, we show, severely undermeasured. Moreover, the manner of its inclusion renders the CPI extremely sensitive to nonpayment variations; we show how to fix this. Nonpayment undermeasurement suggests at least a +1 ppt overestimate in 2020 CPI shelter ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-22R2

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-03

Journal Article
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 ...
Economic Commentary , Issue Nov

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1527

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1430

Working Paper
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: ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1511



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