The effect of question wording on reported expectations and perceptions of inflation
Public expectations and perceptions of inflation may affect economic decisions, and have subsequent effects on actual inflation. The Michigan Survey of Consumers uses questions about "prices in general" to measure expected and perceived inflation. Median responses track official measure of inflation, showing some tendency toward overestimation and considerable disagreement between respondents. Possibly, responses reflect how much respondents thought of salient personal experiences with specific prices when being asked about "prices in general." Here, we randomly assigned respondents to ...
Creating a History of U.S. Inflation Expectations
Central bankers closely monitor inflation expectations because they?re an important determinant of actual inflation. Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) are commonly used to measure bond market inflation expectations. Unfortunately, they were only introduced in 1997, so historical data are limited. We propose a solution to this problem by using the relationship between TIPS yields and other data with a longer history to construct synthetic TIPS rates going back to 1971.
Constrained Discretion and Central Bank Transparency
We develop and estimate a general equilibrium model to quantitatively assess the effects and welfare implications of central bank transparency. Monetary policy can deviate from active inflation stabilization and agents conduct Bayesian learning about the nature of these deviations. Under constrained discretion, only short deviations occur, agents? uncertainty about the macroeconomy remains contained, and welfare is high. However, if a deviation persists, uncertainty accelerates and welfare declines. Announcing the future policy course raises uncertainty in the short run by revealing that ...
Average Inflation Targeting and Household Expectations
Using a daily survey of U.S. households, we study how the Federal Reserve’s announcement of its new strategy of average inflation targeting affected households’ expectations. Starting with the day of the announcement, there is a very small uptick in the minority of households reporting that they had heard news about monetary policy relative to prior to the announcement, but this effect fades within a few days. Those hearing news about the announcement do not seem to have understood the announcement: they are no more likely to correctly identify the Fed’s new strategy than others, nor ...
Heterogeneous inflation expectations and learning
Using the panel component of the Michigan Survey of Consumers, we estimate a learning model of inflation expectations, allowing for heterogeneous use of both private information and lifetime inflation experience. ?Life-experience inflation? has a significant impact on individual expectations, but only for one-year-ahead inflation. Public information is substantially more relevant for longer-horizon expectations. Even controlling for life-experience inflation and public information, idiosyncratic information explains a nontrivial proportion of the inflation forecasts of agents. We find that ...
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 ...
Unit Cost Expectations and Uncertainty: Firms' Perspectives on Inflation
We rely on the Atlanta Fed's Business Inflation Expectations survey to draw inference about firms' inflation perceptions, expectations, and uncertainty through the lens of firms' unit (marginal) costs. Using methods grounded in the survey literature, we find evidence that the concept of "aggregate inflation" as measured through price statistics like the consumer price index hold very little relevance for business decision makers. This lack of relevance manifests itself through experiments (including randomized controlled trials) that show how researchers word questions to elicit inflation ...
Inflation Expectations in Times of COVID-19
As an important driver of the inflation process, inflation expectations must be monitored closely by policymakers to ensure they remain consistent with long-term monetary policy objectives. In particular, if inflation expectations start drifting away from the central bank’s objective, they could become permanently “un-anchored” in the long run. Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis unlike any other, its impact on short- and medium-term inflation has been challenging to predict. In this post, we summarize the results of our forthcoming paper that makes use of the Survey of Consumer ...
A New Model of Inflation, Trend Inflation, and Long-Run Inflation Expectations
A knowledge of the level of trend inflation is key to many current policy decisions, and several methods of estimating trend inflation exist. This paper adds to the growing literature which uses survey-based long-run forecasts of inflation to estimate trend inflation. We develop a bivariate model of inflation and long-run forecasts of inflation which allows for the estimation of the link between trend inflation and the long-run forecast. Thus, our model allows for the possibilities that long-run forecasts taken from surveys can be equated with trend inflation, that the two are completely ...
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.