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Reconsidering the Relationship between Inflation and Relative Price Variability

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  • CHI-YOUNG CHOI

Abstract

It has long been popularly believed that the relationship between inflation and relative price variability (RPV) is positive and stable. Using disaggregated CPI data for the United States and Japan, however, this study finds that the relationship is neither linear nor stable over time. The overall relationship is approximately U-shaped around a nonzero threshold inflation rate. RPV therefore changes not with the inflation rate "per se", but with the deviation of inflation from the threshold inflation rate. More importantly, the relationship is by no means stable over time but instead varies significantly in a way that coincides with regime changes of inflation or monetary policy. The relationship was positive during the period of high inflation of the 1970s and the early 1980s, as has been documented by a number of previous studies, whereas it takes a U-shape profile during the Great Moderation. The results are robust to the use of core inflation, which excludes the traditionally volatile prices of food and energy. This paper then presents a modified version of the Calvo-type sticky price model to describe the observed empirical regularities. Simulation experiments show that the modified Calvo model fits the data well, and that the underlying relationship hinges upon the degree of price rigidity, which is systematically related to inflation regime. For countries and periods with low inflation rates, the relationship takes a U-shape as price adjustment is more sticky. In a high-inflation environment, when price setting becomes more flexible, the U-shaped profile vanishes. Copyright (c) 2010 The Ohio State University.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 42 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (08)
Pages: 769-798

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:42:y:2010:i:5:p:769-798

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Cited by:
  1. Becker, Sascha S. & Nautz, Dieter, 2012. "Inflation, price dispersion and market integration through the lens of a monetary search model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 624-634.
  2. Hiranya K. Nath & Natalie Hegwood, 2012. "Structural Breaks and Relative Price Convergence among U.S. Cities," Working Papers 1204, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business.
  3. Tierney, Heather L.R., 2010. "Real-Time Data Revisions and the PCE Measure of Inflation," MPRA Paper 22387, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Apr 2010.
  4. Choi, Chi-Young & O'Sullivan, Róisín, 2013. "Heterogeneous response of disaggregate inflation to monetary policy regime change: The role of price stickiness," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1814-1832.
  5. Mohammad Ali Kafaie & Amir Mohammad Moshref, 2013. "Inflation and Relative Price Dispersion: Evidence for Iran," Iranian Economic Review, Economics faculty of Tehran university, vol. 18(1), pages 93-104, winter.
  6. Ma Caraballo & Tilemahos Efthimiadis, 2012. "Is 2 % the optimal inflation rate for the Euro Area?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 235-243, September.
  7. Muhammad Akmal, 2012. "The Relationship between Inflation and Relative Price Variability in Pakistan," Working Papers id:4734, eSocialSciences.
  8. Sascha S. Becker, 2011. "What Drives the Relationship Between Inflation and Price Dispersion? Market Power vs. Price Rigidity," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-019, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  9. Rather, Sartaj Rasool & Durai, S. Raja Sethu & Ramachandran, M., 2014. "Inflation and relative price variability: Evidence for India," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 32-41.

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