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Expectation formation in a new environment: Evidence from the German reunification

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  • Goldfayn-Frank, Olga
  • Wohlfart, Johannes

Abstract

Exploiting the German reunification, we study how households adapt to a new environment in their macroeconomic forecasting. East Germans expect higher inflation than West Germans decades after reunification. These differences are likely driven by the persistent effect of the inflation shock after reunification, which contrasted strongly with experiences of zero inflation in the GDR. East Germans’ higher inflation expectations are reflected in higher consumer debt and lower bond holdings. Our findings suggest that large changes in the environment can permanently impede people’s ability to form expectations, with an important role for the interaction of experiences before and after the event.

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  • Goldfayn-Frank, Olga & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2020. "Expectation formation in a new environment: Evidence from the German reunification," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 301-320.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:115:y:2020:i:c:p:301-320
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmoneco.2019.08.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Emmler, Julian & Fitzenberger, Bernd, 2021. "Temporary Overpessimism: Job Loss Expectations Following a Large Negative Employment Shock," IZA Discussion Papers 14149, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Peter Backé & Elisabeth Beckmann, 2020. "What drives people’s expectations of euro adoption? – Evidence from the OeNB Euro Survey on selected CESEE countries," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q4/20, pages 57-79.
    3. Emmler, Julian & Fitzenberger, Bernd, 2021. "Temporary overpessimism: Job loss expectations following a large negative employment shock," IAB Discussion Paper 202105, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    4. Sascha O. Becker & Lukas Mergele & Ludger Wößmann, 2021. "Es liegt nicht alles am Sozialismus — über Ost-West-Unterschiede und ihre Ursprünge [It Is Not All Because of Socialism — On East-West Differences and Their Origins]," Wirtschaftsdienst, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 101(1), pages 32-36, March.
    5. Sascha O. Becker & Lukas Mergele & Ludger Wößmann, 2020. "Die deutsche Teilung und Wiedervereinigung und die „Auswirkungen“ des Kommunismus," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 73(05), pages 48-51, May.
    6. Conrad, Christian & Enders, Zeno & Glas, Alexander, 2020. "The role of information and experience for households' inflation expectations," Working Papers 20, German Research Foundation's Priority Programme 1859 "Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour", Humboldt University Berlin.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Expectation formation; Inflation; Natural experiment; German reunification; Macroeconomic experiences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • E71 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on the Macro Economy
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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