Inflation expectations and nonlinearities in the Phillips curve
This paper shows that a simple form of nonlinearity in the Phillips curve can explain why, following the Great Recession, inflation did not decrease as much as predicted by linear Phillips curves, a phenomenon known as the missing disinflation. We estimate a piecewise-linear specification and document that the data favor a model with two regions, with the response of inflation to an increase in unemployment slower in the region where unemployment is already high. Nonlinearities remain important, even when we account for other factors proposed in the literature, such as consumer expectations of inflation or financial frictions. However, studying a range of specifications with different measures of inflation and economic activity, we conclude that, in most cases, consumer expectations are more robust than nonlinearities. We find that the role of consumer expectations was especially important in the 1970s and ?80s, during a turbulent rise in inflation followed by the Volcker disinflation; the nonlinearities make disinflation more problematic and require the inflation expectations process to be more forward-looking during this period, thereby putting a larger weight on survey expectations. We conclude that a nonlinear Phillips curve with forward-looking survey expectations can be a useful tool to understand inflation dynamics during episodes of rapid disinflation and persistent inflation.
AUTHORS: Doser, Alexander; Nunes, Ricardo; Rao, Nikhil; Sheremirov, Viacheslav
Household inflation expectations and consumer spending: evidence from panel data
With nominal interest rates at the zero lower bound, an important question for monetary policy is whether, as predicted in prior theoretical work, an increase in inflation expectations would boost current consumer spending. Using survey panel data for the period from April 2009 to November 2012, we examine the relationship between a household's inflation expectations and its current spending, taking into account other factors such as the household's wage growth expectations, the uncertainty surrounding its inflation expectations, macroeconomic conditions, and unobserved heterogeneity at the household level. We examine spending behavior for large consumer durables as well as for nondurable goods. No evidence is found that consumers increase their spending on large home appliances and electronics in response to an increase in their inflation expectations. In most models, the estimated effects are small, negative, and statistically insignificant. However, consumers do appear more likely to purchase a car as their short-run inflation expectations rise. Additionally, in some models, spending on nondurable goods increases with short-run expected inflation. These estimated effects on nondurables spending are modest, not highly robust, and appear to be driven by the behavior of homeowners who did not have a mortgage. These findings are surprising because theory predicts that consumption of durable goods should be more sensitive to real interest rates than consumption of nondurable goods. In addition, consumers in our sample, on average, did not expect their nominal income growth to match inflation, and therefore an increase in expected inflation would create a negative income effect that discourages spending in both the present and the future. The findings suggest that, as a policy measure, raising inflation expectations may not be effective in boosting present consumption.
AUTHORS: Burke, Mary A.; Ozdagli, Ali K.
Inflation Thresholds and Inattention
Inflation expectations are key to economic activity, and in the current economic climate of a heated labor market, they are central to the policy debate. At the same time, a growing literature on inattention suggests that individuals, and therefore individual behavior, may not be sensitive to changes in inflation when it is low. This paper explores evidence of such inattention by constructing three different measures based on the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers 1-year ahead inflation expectations. Exploring inflation thresholds of 2, 3, and 4 percent, our findings are consistent with the inattention hypothesis.
AUTHORS: Bracha, Anat; Tang, Jenny
Is Inflation Default? The Role of Information in Debt Crises
We consider a two-period Bayesian trading game where in each period informed agents decide whether to buy an asset ("government debt") after observing an idiosyncratic signal about the prospects of default. While second-period buyers only need to forecast default, first-period buyers pass the asset to the new agents in the secondary market, and thus need to form beliefs about the price that will prevail at that stage. We provide conditions such that coarser information in the hands of second-period agents makes the price of debt more resilient to bad shocks not only in the last period, but in the first one as well. We use this model to study the consequences of issuing debt denominated in domestic vs. foreign currency: we interpret the former as subject to inflation risk and the latter as subject to default risk, with inflation driven by the information of a less-sophisticated group of agents endowed with less precise information, and default by the information of sophisticated bond traders. Our results can be used to account for the behavior of debt prices across countries following the 2008 financial crisis, and also provide a theory of "original sin."
AUTHORS: Galli, Carlo; Bassetto, Marco
The Effect of Central Bank Credibility on Forward Guidance in an Estimated New Keynesian Model
This paper examines the effectiveness of forward guidance in an estimated New Keynesian model with imperfect central bank credibility. Forward guidance and the credibility of the central bank are uniquely modeled by utilizing a game-theoretic evolutionary framework. We estimate credibility for the U.S. Federal Reserve with Bayesian methods exploiting survey data on interest rate expectations from the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF). The results provide important takeaways: (1) The estimate of Federal Reserve credibility in terms of forward guidance announcements is relatively high, which indicates a degree of forward guidance effectiveness, but still one that is below the fully credible case. (2) If a central bank is perceived as less credible, anticipation effects are attenuated and, accordingly, output and inflation do not respond as favorably to forward guidance announcements. (3) Imperfect credibility and forward guidance are an important aspect to resolve the so-called “forward guidance puzzle,” which the literature shows arises from the unrealistically large responses of macroeconomic variables to forward guidance statements in structural models with perfect credibility. (4) Imperfect central bank credibility can also explain the evidence of forecasting error predictability based on forecasting disagreement found in the SPF data. Thus, accounting for imperfect credibility is important to model the formation of expectations in the economy and to understand the transmission mechanism of forward guidance announcements.
AUTHORS: Martinez-Garcia, Enrique; Cole, Stephen J.
Model Averaging and Persistent Disagreement
The authors consider the following scenario: Two agents construct models of an endogenous price process. One agent thinks the data are stationary, the other thinks the data are nonstationary. A policymaker combines forecasts from the two models using a recursive Bayesian model averaging procedure. The actual (but unknown) price process depends on the policymaker?s forecasts. The authors find that if the policymaker has complete faith in the stationary model, then beliefs and outcomes converge to the stationary rational expectations equilibrium. However, even a grain of doubt about stationarity will cause beliefs to settle on the nonstationary model, where prices experience large self-confirming deviations away from the stationary equilibrium. The authors show that it would take centuries of data before agents were able to detect their model misspecifications
AUTHORS: Kasa, Kenneth; Cho, In-Koo
Implications of heterogeneity in preferences, beliefs and asset trading technologies for the macroeconomy
This paper analyzes and computes the equilibria of economies with large numbers of heterogeneous agents who have different asset trading technologies, preferences, and beliefs. We illustrate the value of our method by using it to evaluate the implications of these heterogeneities through several quantitative exercises.
AUTHORS: Chien, YiLi; Cole, Harold L.; Lustig, Hanno
The Tail that Wags the Economy: Beliefs and Persistent Stagnation
The Great Recession was a deep downturn with long-lasting effects on credit, employment and output. While narratives about its causes abound, the persistence of GDP below pre-crisis trends remains puzzling. We propose a simple persistence mechanism that can be quantified and combined with existing models. Our key premise is that agents don't know the true distribution of shocks, but use data to estimate it non-parametrically. Then, transitory events, especially extreme ones, generate persistent changes in beliefs and macro outcomes. Embedding this mechanism in a neoclassical model, we find that it endogenously generates persistent drops in economic activity after tail events.
AUTHORS: Kozlowski, Julian; Veldkamp, Laura; Venkateswaran, Venky
The boy who cried bubble: public warnings against riding bubbles
Attempts by governments to stop bubbles by issuing warnings seem unsuccessful. This paper examines the effects of public warnings using a simple model of riding bubbles. We show that public warnings against a bubble can stop it if investors believe that a warning is issued in a definite range of periods commencing around the starting period of the bubble. If a warning involves the possibility of being issued too early, regardless of the starting period of the bubble, it cannot stop the bubble immediately. Bubble duration can be shortened by a premature public warning, but lengthened if it is late. Our model suggests that governments need to lower the probability of spurious warnings.
AUTHORS: Ueda, Kozo; Asako, Yasushi
(A)symmetric Information Bubbles: Experimental Evidence
Asymmetric information has been necessary to explain a bubble in past theoretical models. This study experimentally analyzes traders? choices, with and without asymmetric information, based on the riding-bubble model. We show that traders have an incentive to hold a bubble asset for longer, thereby expanding the bubble in a market with symmetric, rather than asymmetric information. However, when traders are more experienced, the size of the bubble decreases, in which case bubbles do not arise, with symmetric information. In contrast, the size of the bubble is stable in a market with asymmetric information.
AUTHORS: Ueda, Kozo; Funaki, Yukihiko; Asako, Yasushi; Uto, Nobuyuki