Measuring short-run inflation for central bankers
As central bankers intensify their focus on inflation as the primary goal of monetary policy, it becomes increasingly important to have accurate and reliable measures of changes in the aggregate price level. Measuring inflation is surprisingly difficult, involving two types of problems. Commonly used indices, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI), contain both transitory noise and bias. Noise causes short-run changes in measured inflation to inaccurately reflect movements in long-run trends, while bias leads the long-run average change in the CPI to be too high. In this paper I propose methods of reducing both the noise and the bias in the CPI. Noise reduction is achieved by average monthly inflation in measures called trimmed means' over longer horizons. Trimmed means are statistics similar to the median that are calculated by ignoring the CPI components with extreme high and low changes each month, and averaging the rest. I find that using three month averages halves the noise, while removing the highest and lowest ten percent of the cross-sectional distribution of inflation reduces the monthly variation in inflation by one-fifth.
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Volume (Year): (1997)
Issue (Month): May ()
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1993.
"The consumer price index as a measure of inflation,"
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 15-24.
- 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.
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- Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1992. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," NBER Working Papers 4168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1993. "Relative-price changes as aggregate supply shocks," Working Papers 93-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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- David E. Lebow & John M. Roberts & David J. Stockton, 1992. "Economic performance under price stability," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 125, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Stephen G. Cecchetti & Anil K Kashyap & David W. Wilcox, 1995. "Do Firms Smooth the Seasonal in Production in a Boom? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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