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A comparison of measures of core inflation

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  • Robert W. Rich
  • Charles Steindel

Abstract

The ability of central banks to differentiate between permanent and transitory price movements is critical for the conduct of monetary policy. The importance of gauging the persistence of price changes in a timely manner has led to the development of measures of underlying, or ?core,? inflation that are designed to remove transitory price changes from aggregate inflation data. Given the usefulness of this information to policymakers, there is a surprising lack of consensus on a preferred measure of U.S. core inflation. This article examines several proposed measures of core inflation?the popular ex food and energy series, an ex energy series, a weighted median series, and an exponentially smoothed series?to identify a ?best? measure. The authors evaluate the measures? performance according to criteria such as ease of design and accuracy in tracking trend inflation, as well as explanatory content for within-sample and out-of-sample movements in aggregate CPI and PCE inflation. The study reveals that the candidate series perform very differently across aggregate inflation measures, criteria, and sample periods. The authors therefore find no compelling evidence to focus on one particular measure of core inflation, including the series that excludes food and energy prices. They attribute their results to the design of the individual measures and the measures? inability to account for variability in the nature and sources of transitory price movements.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Rich & Charles Steindel, 2007. "A comparison of measures of core inflation," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 13(Dec), pages 19-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednep:y:2007:i:dec:p:19-38:n:v.13no.3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Amy Higgins & Randal J. Verbrugge, 2015. "Tracking Trend Inflation: Nonseasonally Adjusted Variants of the Median and Trimmed-Mean CPI," Working Papers (Old Series) 1527, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Sahu, Priyanka, 2018. "The Impact of Shocks on Core Inflation; Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 86588, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Pincheira-Brown, Pablo & Selaive, Jorge & Nolazco, Jose Luis, 2019. "Forecasting inflation in Latin America with core measures," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1060-1071.
    4. Mazumder, Sandeep, 2014. "The sacrifice ratio and core inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 400-421.
    5. Hernando Vargas & Andrés González & Eliana González & José Vicente Romero & José Luis Eduardo Rojas, 2010. "Assessing inflationary pressures in Colombia," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Monetary policy and the measurement of inflation: prices, wages and expectations, volume 49, pages 129-171, Bank for International Settlements.
    6. Bańbura, Marta & Bobeica, Elena, 2020. "PCCI – a data-rich measure of underlying inflation in the euro area," Statistics Paper Series 38, European Central Bank.
    7. Mr. James P Walsh, 2011. "Reconsidering the Role of Food Prices in Inflation," IMF Working Papers 2011/071, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Stefano Eusepi & Bart Hobijn & Andrea Tambalotti, 2011. "CONDI: A Cost-of-Nominal-Distortions Index," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 53-91, July.
    9. Alan K. Detmeister, 2011. "The usefulness of core PCE inflation measures," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Mazumder, Sandeep, 2017. "Output gains from accelerating core inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 63-74.
    11. Eliana R. González-Molano & Ramón Hernández-Ortega & Edgar Caicedo-García & Nicolás Martínez-Cortés & Jose Vicente Romero & Anderson Grajales-Olarte, 2020. "Nueva Clasificación del BANREP de la Canasta del IPC y revisión de las medidas de Inflación Básica en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1122, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    12. Jim Dolmas & Mark A. Wynne, 2008. "Measuring core inflation: notes from a 2007 Dallas Fed conference," Staff Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue May.
    13. Bermingham, Colin, 2010. "A critical assessment of existing estimates of US core inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 993-1007, December.
    14. Stefano Siviero & Giovanni Veronese, 2011. "A policy-sensible benchmark core inflation measure," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(4), pages 648-672, December.
    15. Jim Dolmas, 2009. "Excluding items from personal consumption expenditures inflation," Staff Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Jun.
    16. Marlene Amstad & Simon M. Potter & Robert W. Rich, 2017. "The New York Fed Staff Underlying Inflation Gauge (UIG)," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue 23-2, pages 1-32.
    17. Terence C. Mills, 2013. "Constructing U.K. Core Inflation," Econometrics, MDPI, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, April.
    18. Jinill Kim & Byung Kwun Ahn, 2012. "A New Measure for Core Inflation Based on Generalized Dynamic-Factor Model," Economic Analysis (Quarterly), Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea, vol. 18(2), pages 1-28, June.
    19. Alan K. Detmeister, 2012. "What should core inflation exclude?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-43, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    20. James B. Bullard, 2011. "Measuring inflation: the core is rotten," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 93(July), pages 223-234.
    21. Jim Lee, 2009. "Food and Energy Prices in Core Inflation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(2), pages 847-860.

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