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Harmonized Indexes of Consumer Prices: Their Conceptual Foundations

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  • W. Erwin Diewert

Abstract

The Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) is the single most important indicator of inflation used by the European Central Bank. Sections 2 to 4 of the paper look at the theory of inflation indexes that could be used as target indexes of inflation. A Consumer Price Index (CPI) emerges as perhaps the most useful target index. Four different approaches to index number theory are reviewed and the "best" index number formula from each perspective is determined. Section 6 looks at the methodology of the HICP in the light of the previous sections. Section 7 looks at some of the difficult measurement problems that must be addressed in a CPI or an HICP. These problems include the treatment of quality change, substitution or representativity bias, chained versus fixed base indexes, the choice of formula at the lowest level of aggregation and the treatment of owner occupied housing and seasonal commodities.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Erwin Diewert, 2002. "Harmonized Indexes of Consumer Prices: Their Conceptual Foundations," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 138(IV), pages 547-637, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2002-iv-13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alchian, Armen A & Klein, Benjamin, 1973. "On a Correct Measure of Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 5(1), pages 173-191, Part I Fe.
    2. Balk, Bert M, 1996. "Consistency-in-Aggregation and Stuvel Indices," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(3), pages 353-363, September.
    3. Robert B. Archibald, 1977. "On the Theory of Industrial Price Measurement Output Price Indexes," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 6, number 1, pages 57-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Bert Balk, 2003. "The Residual: On Monitoring and Benchmarking Firms, Industries, and Economies with Respect to Productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 5-47, July.
    6. Paul A. Armknecht Jr. & Fenella Maitland-Smith, 1999. "Price Imputation and Other Techniques for Dealing with Missing Observations, Seasonality and Quality Change in Price Indices," IMF Working Papers 99/78, International Monetary Fund.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anderson, Heather M. & Dungey, Mardi & Osborn, Denise R. & Vahid, Farshid, 2011. "Financial integration and the construction of historical financial data for the Euro Area," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 1498-1509, July.
    2. Heather Anderson & Mardi Dungey & Denise Osborn & Farshid Vahid, 2007. "Constructing Historical Euro Area Data," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 99, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    3. Erwin Diewert & John Greenlees & Charles R. Hulten, 2009. "Introduction: What Are the Issues?," NBER Chapters,in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Barnett, William A., 2003. "Aggregation-theoretic monetary aggregation over the euro area, when countries are heterogeneous," Working Paper Series 260, European Central Bank.
    5. Bart Hobijn & Federico Ravenna & Andrea Tambalotti, 2006. "Menu Costs at Work: Restaurant Prices and the Introduction of the Euro," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 1103-1131.
    6. Ferro, Gustavo, 2007. "Metas de inflación ¿qué hay de nuevo bajo el sol?
      [Inflation Targeting. What's new under the sun?]
      ," MPRA Paper 15069, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 11 Mar 2008.
    7. William A. Barnett, 2011. "Multilateral Aggregation-Theoretic Monetary Aggregation over Heterogeneous Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Aggregation And Index Number Theory, chapter 6, pages 167-206 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    8. Gerardo Aceituno P. & Gonzalo Encina T. & Antonio Escandón A., 2003. "Medición de Cuentas Nacionales Basada en Índices Encadenados," Notas de Investigación Journal Economía Chilena (The Chilean Economy), Central Bank of Chile, vol. 6(1), pages 71-76, April.
    9. Agnieszka Leszczynska & Aleksandra Halka, 2012. "What does the Consumer Price Index Measure? Bias Estimates for Poland," EcoMod2012 4370, EcoMod.
    10. Huerga, Javier & Steklacova, Lucia, 2008. "An application of index numbers theory to interest rates," Working Paper Series 939, European Central Bank.
    11. Bellod Redondo, José Francisco, 2009. "El precio de la vivienda y la inflación en España," El Trimestre Económico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, vol. 0(302), pages 379-405, abril-jun.
    12. Kohli, Ulrich, 2004. "Real GDP, real domestic income, and terms-of-trade changes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 83-106, January.
    13. W. Erwin Diewert, 2009. "Durables and Owner-Occupied Housing in a Consumer Price Index," NBER Chapters,in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 445-500 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Rossi, Sergio, 2004. "The enlargement of the euro area: what lessons can be learned from EMU?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 947-970, January.
    15. McCarthy, Colm, 2007. "Owner-Occupied Housing Costs and Bias in the Consumer Price Index," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2007(3-Autumn), pages 83-88.
    16. Büyükkarabacak, Berrak & Mykhaylova, Olena, 2010. "Housing market dynamics and welfare," MPRA Paper 23322, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Diewert, W. Erwin & Nakamura, Alice O. & Nakamura, Leonard I., 2009. "The housing bubble and a new approach to accounting for housing in a CPI," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 156-171, September.
    18. Robert J. Hill & Alice O. Nakamura, 2010. "Improving Inflation And Related Performance Measures For Nations: An Introduction," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(s1), pages 1-10, June.
    19. W. Erwin Diewert & Alice O. Nakamura, 2009. "Accounting for housing in a CPI," Working Papers 09-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    20. Gerhard Rösl & Karl-Heinz Tödter, 2015. "Zins- und Wohlfahrtseffekte extremer Niedrigzinspolitik für die Sparer in Deutschland," ROME Working Papers 201501, ROME Network.
    21. Gerhard R?sl & Karl-Heinz T?dter, 2015. "The Costs and Welfare Effects of ECB's Financial Repression Policy: Consequences for German Savers," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 5, pages 42-59, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inflation target; Consumer Price Index; Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices; the System of National Accounts; superlative indexes; fixed basket indexes; stochastic indexes; index number tests; cost of living indexes; tourist expenditures; elementary indexes; quality change; substitution bias; representativity bias; chained indexes; fixed base indexes; owner occupied housing; seasonal commodities; user cost; rental equivalence; acquisitions approach; unit values; intertemporal cost of living indexes; the temporary equilibrium; asset prices.;

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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