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How useful are leading indicators of inflation?

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  • C. Alan Garner

Abstract

Many economists expect inflation to rise in 1995. These expectations are based on various approaches to forecasting inflation. One approach is based on the standard economic theory that inflation rises when slack is eliminated from the economy and production exceeds capacity constraints. According to this view, measures of economic slack such as unemployment and capacity utilization provide useful information about the inflation outlook. But the relationship between slack and inflation is complicated and subject to variable lags.> Uncomfortable with this complex relationship, some analysts rely on alternative approaches to forecasting inflation. One approach is based on "leading indicators" of inflation. The leading indicators typically incorporate information on selected prices to augment or replace information on economic slack. The prices selected are usually key commodity prices that fluctuate more or less continuously in response to changing economic conditions. Prominent leading indicators of inflation include the price of gold, broader indexes of commodity prices, and composite indicators that combine several economic series believed to predict the inflation rate.> Garner examines five widely watched leading indicators and concludes that the composite indicators have given the most useful early warning signals of inflation turning points, but none of the indicators has recently been successful in predicting inflation magnitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Alan Garner, 1995. "How useful are leading indicators of inflation?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:1995:i:qii:p:5-18:n:v.80no.2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Peter Wickham, 1994. "Commodity Prices: Cyclical Weakness or Secular Decline?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(2), pages 175-213, June.
    2. Granger, C W J, 1969. "Investigating Causal Relations by Econometric Models and Cross-Spectral Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 424-438, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lecarpentier-Moyal, Sylvie & Payelle, Nathalie, 2001. "Règle monétaire et cible de prévisions d’inflation," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 77(4), pages 531-568, décembre.
    2. Hahn, Elke & Zekaite, Zivile & de Bondt, Gabe, 2018. "ALICE: A new inflation monitoring tool," Working Paper Series 2175, European Central Bank.
    3. Bampinas, Georgios & Panagiotidis, Theodore, 2015. "Are gold and silver a hedge against inflation? A two century perspective," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 267-276.
    4. Gibson, Heather D. & Lazaretou, Sophia, 2001. "Leading inflation indicators for Greece," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 325-348, August.
    5. Ciner, Cetin, 2011. "Commodity prices and inflation: Testing in the frequency domain," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 229-237, September.
    6. Aye, Goodness C. & Chang, Tsangyao & Gupta, Rangan, 2016. "Is gold an inflation-hedge? Evidence from an interrupted Markov-switching cointegration model," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 77-84.
    7. repec:eee:riibaf:v:44:y:2018:i:c:p:319-331 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Niek Nahuis, 2003. "An alternative demand indicator: the 'non-accelerating inflation rate of capacity utilization'," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(11), pages 1339-1344.
    9. Granger, Clive W. J. & Jeon, Yongil, 2003. "Comparing forecasts of inflation using time distance," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 339-349.
    10. Todd E. Clark, 1995. "Do producer prices lead consumer prices?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 25-39.
    11. Fred Furlong & Robert Ingenito, 1996. "Commodity prices and inflation," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 27-47.
    12. Blose, Laurence E., 2010. "Gold prices, cost of carry, and expected inflation," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 35-47, January.
    13. Greg Tkacz, 2007. "Gold Prices and Inflation," Staff Working Papers 07-35, Bank of Canada.
    14. Saira Tufail & Sadia Batool, 2013. "An Analysis of the Relationship between Inflation and Gold Prices: Evidence from Pakistan," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 1-35, July-Dec.

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    Keywords

    Economic indicators ; Inflation (Finance);

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