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Underlying Inflation: Concepts, Measurement and Performance

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  • Ivan Roberts

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

Abstract

This paper explores the concept of underlying inflation and the properties of various measures of underlying inflation in the Australian context. Underlying inflation measures are routinely calculated and monitored by central banks in many countries, including the Reserve Bank of Australia. Alternative measurement concepts are explored, and a range of measures that have been calculated for Australia are discussed and evaluated on the basis of statistical criteria. These criteria capture the intuition that a good measure of underlying inflation should be less volatile than CPI (or headline) inflation, be unbiased with respect to CPI inflation, and capture the ‘trend’ in CPI inflation so that, on average, CPI inflation will tend to adjust towards the measure of underlying inflation. In the Australian context, statistical measures of underlying inflation, such as the trimmed mean or weighted median, perform fairly satisfactorily against these criteria. The performance of these measures can be further improved by seasonally adjusting prices at the CPI component level. Although underlying inflation measures have become less necessary in the past decade as inflation itself has become less volatile, these findings suggest that underlying inflation measures can still add value to the analysis of inflationary trends.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp2005-05.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2005-05

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Keywords: underlying inflation; core inflation; trimmed mean; weighted median; volatility-weighted measures;

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References

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  1. Danny Quah & Danny Quah & Shaun P. Vahey, 1995. "Measuring Core Inflation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0254, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1994. "Measuring Core Inflation," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 195-219 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Shiratsuka, Shigenori, 1997. "Inflation Measures for Monetary Policy: Measuring the Underlying Inflation Trend and Its Implication for Monetary Policy Implementation," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 15(2), pages 1-26, December.
  4. Bryan, Michael-F & Cecchetti, Stephen-G, 1999. "The Monthly Measurement of Core Inflation in Japan," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 17(1), pages 77-101, May.
  5. Clements, Kenneth W & Izan, H Y, 1987. "The Measurement of Inflation: A Stochastic Approach," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(3), pages 339-50, July.
  6. Juan-Luis Vega & Mark A. Wynne, 2002. "A first assessment of some measures of core inflation for the euro area," Working Papers 0205, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  7. Marques, Carlos Robalo & Neves, Pedro Duarte & da Silva, Afonso Goncalves, 2002. "Why should Central Banks avoid the use of the underlying inflation indicator?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-23, March.
  8. Quah, Danny, 1995. "Measuring Core Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1993. "The Consumer Price Index as a Measure of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 4505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Aucremanne, L., 2000. "The Use of Robust Estimators as Measures of Core Inflation," Papers 2, Warwick - Development Economics Research Centre.
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  12. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti & Rodney L. Wiggins II, 1997. "Efficient inflation estimation," Working Paper 9707, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  13. Robert Dixon & Guay Lim, 2003. "Underlying Inflation in Australia: Are the Existing Measures Satisfactory?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 878, The University of Melbourne.
  14. Jonathan Kearns, 1998. "The Distribution and Measurement of Inflation," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp9810, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  15. repec:wop:imespe:9707 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-93, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Jamie Hall & Jarkko Jääskelä, 2009. "Inflation Volatility and Forecast Accuracy," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2009-06, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  2. Andrea Brischetto & Anthony Richards, 2006. "The Performance of Trimmed Mean Measures of Underlying Inflation," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2006-10, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  3. Christian Gillitzer & John Simon, 2006. "Component-smoothed Inflation: Estimating the Persistent Component of Inflation in Real Time," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2006-11, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  4. David Norman & Anthony Richards, 2012. "The Forecasting Performance of Single Equation Models of Inflation," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(280), pages 64-78, 03.
  5. Péter Gábriel & György Molnár & Judit Rariga, 2013. "Measures of underlying inflation," MNB Bulletin, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (the central bank of Hungary), vol. 8(3), pages 25-35, October.
  6. Atchana Waiquamdee & Pranee Sutthasri & Tientip Subhanij & Surach Tanboon, 2009. "Monetary Policy and Underlying Inflation Pressures: The Essence of Monetary Policy Design," Working Papers 2009-11, Economic Research Department, Bank of Thailand.
  7. Andrew Stone & Troy Wheatley & Louise Wilkinson, 2005. "A Small Model of the Australian Macroeconomy: An Update," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2005-11, Reserve Bank of Australia.

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