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Do producer prices lead consumer prices?

  • Todd E. Clark

From early 1994 to early 1995, inflation surged in the producer price indexes for crude materials and intermediate goods. For example, inflation in intermediate goods prices rose from 2.6 percent annually in the first half of 1994 to 7.1 percent over the next nine months. At the same time, however, inflation in the consumer price index remained low, at slightly less than 3 percent. Many analysts are concerned that recent increases in the prices of crude and intermediate goods may be passed through to consumers. If such pass-through occurs, the Federal Reserve's progress in moving toward price stability over time would be jeopardized.> Clark examines whether price increases at the early stages of production should be expected to move through the production chain, leading to increases in consumer prices. A review of basic economic theory suggests there should be a pass-through effect--that is, producer prices should lead and thereby help predict consumer prices. A more sophisticated analysis, though, suggests the pass-through effect may be weak. Clark examines the empirical evidence, which indicates that producer prices are not always good predictors of consumer prices. He concludes that the recent increases in some producer prices do not necessarily signal higher inflation.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (1995)
Issue (Month): Q III ()
Pages: 25-39

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:1995:i:qiii:p:25-39:n:v.80no.3
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