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Recent Inflation-Related Research

Inflation-Related Economic Commentary

Economic Commentary provides research, analysis, and perspectives on an economic topic or policy issue.

  • Understanding Which Prices Affect Inflation Expectations


    Chris Campos Michael McMain Mathieu Pedemonte

    Abstract

    Inflation expectations have an impact on one’s economic behavior. We show that the inflation expectations of professional forecasters and consumers are predicted by very different prices. While professional forecasters weigh prices similar to the consumer price index, consumers seem to focus on prices they see more often, such as those for food and new vehicles. These are also prices that have seen disproportionally high volatility since the onset of the pandemic. We argue that heterogeneity in the importance of component-specific inflation can have relevant economic implications and disproportionate effects on consumers’ inflation expectations that can, in turn, affect economic behavior.  Read More

  • Adjusting Median and Trimmed-Mean Inflation Rates for Bias Based on Skewness


    Robert W Rich Randal J Verbrugge Saeed Zaman

    Abstract

    Median and trimmed-mean inflation rates tend to be useful estimates of trend inflation over long periods, but they can exhibit persistent departures from the underlying trend over shorter horizons. In this Commentary, we document that the extent of this bias is related to the degree of skewness in the distribution of price changes. The shift in the skewness of the cross-sectional price-change distribution during the pandemic means that median PCE and trimmed-mean PCE inflation rates have recently been understating the trend in PCE inflation by about 15 and 35 basis points, respectively.  Read More

  • Indirect Consumer Inflation Expectations


    Ina Hajdini Edward Knotek II Mathieu Pedemonte Robert W Rich John Leer Raphael Schoenle

    Abstract

    Surveys often measure consumers’ inflation expectations by asking directly about prices in general or overall inflation, concepts that may not be well-defined for some individuals. In this Commentary, we propose a new, indirect way of measuring consumer inflation expectations: Given consumers’ expectations about developments in prices of goods and services during the next 12 months, we ask them how their incomes would have to change to make them equally well-off relative to their current situation such that they could buy the same amount of goods and services as they can today. Using a massive number of survey responses at a high frequency, we show that this measure of indirect consumer inflation expectations has risen sharply since early 2021. Higher inflation experiences correlate with higher indirect consumer inflation expectations across US cities and around the world.  Read More

Inflation-Related Working Papers

Working papers are preliminary versions of technical papers containing the results and discussions of current research.

  • WP 22-13 | Surveys of Professionals


    Michael P Clements Robert W Rich Joseph Tracy

    Abstract

    This chapter provides an overview of surveys of professional forecasters, with a focus on the U.S. Survey of Professional Forecasters and the European Central Bank Survey of Professional Forecasters. A distinguishing feature of these surveys is that they collect point and density forecasts and make the data publicly available. We discuss their structure, issues involved in using the data, and the construction of measures such as disagreement and uncertainty at the aggregate and individual levels. Our review also summarizes the findings of studies exploring issues such as the alignment of point forecasts with measures of central tendency from associated density forecasts, the coverage of density forecasts, the rounding of point and density forecasts, comparisons of forecast accuracy across respondents, and heterogeneity in forecast behavior and the persistence of these differential features. We conclude with some observations for future work.  Read More

  • WP 21-19R | Average Inflation Targeting: Time Inconsistency and Intentional Ambiguity


    Chengcheng Jia Jing Cynthia Wu

    Original Paper: WP 21-19

    Abstract

    We study the implications of the Fed's new policy framework of average inflation targeting (AIT) and its ambiguous communication. The central bank has the incentive to deviate from its announced AIT and implement inflation targeting ex post to maximize social welfare. We show two motives for ambiguous communication about the horizon over which the central bank averages inflation as a result of time inconsistency. First, it is optimal for the central bank to announce different horizons depending on the state of the economy. Second, ambiguous communication helps the central bank gain credibility.  Read More

  • WP 20-12R | News and uncertainty about COVID-19: Survey evidence and short-run economic impact


    Alexander M Dietrich Keith Kuester Gernot J Muller Raphael S Schoenle

    Original Paper: WP 20-12

    Abstract

    A tailor-made survey documents consumer perceptions of the U.S. economy’s response to a large shock: the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey ran at a daily frequency between March 2020 and July 2021. Consumer perceptions regarding output and inflation react rapidly. Uncertainty is pervasive. A business-cycle model calibrated to the consumer views provides an interpretation. The rise in household uncertainty amplifies the pandemic recession by a factor of three. Different perceptions about monetary policy can explain why consumers and professional forecasters agree on the recessionary impact, but have sharply divergent views about inflation.  Read More