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Relative Goods’ Prices and Pure Inflation


  • Reis, Ricardo
  • Watson, Mark W


This paper uses a dynamic factor model for the quarterly changes in consumption goods’ prices to separate them into three components: idiosyncratic relative-price changes, aggregate relative-price changes, and changes in the unit of account. The model identifies a measure of “pure” inflation: the common component in goods’ inflation rates that has an equiproportional effect on all prices and is uncorrelated with relative price changes at all dates. The estimates of pure inflation and of the aggregate relative-price components allow us to re-examine three classic macro-correlations. First, we find that pure inflation accounts for 15-20% of the variability in overall inflation, so that most changes in inflation are associated with changes in goods’ relative prices. Second, we find that the Phillips correlation between inflation and measures of real activity essentially disappears once we control for goods’ relative-price changes. Third, we find that, at business-cycle frequencies, the correlation between inflation and money is close to zero, while the correlation with nominal interest rates is around 0.5, confirming previous findings on the link between monetary policy and inflation

Suggested Citation

  • Reis, Ricardo & Watson, Mark W, 2007. "Relative Goods’ Prices and Pure Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 6593, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6593

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    Cited by:

    1. Catherine Doz & Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2012. "A Quasi–Maximum Likelihood Approach for Large, Approximate Dynamic Factor Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1024, November.
    2. Borus Jungbacker & Siem Jan Koopman & Michel van der Wel, 2009. "Smooth Dynamic Factor Analysis with an Application to the U.S. Term Structure of Interest Rates," CREATES Research Papers 2009-39, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    3. Michal Brzoza-Brzezina & Jacek Kotlowski, 2009. "Estimating pure inflation in the Polish economy," Working Papers 37, Department of Applied Econometrics, Warsaw School of Economics.
    4. George Kapetanios & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2009. "A parametric estimation method for dynamic factor models of large dimensions," Journal of Time Series Analysis, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 208-238, March.
    5. Adrian Armas & Lucy Vallejos & Marco Vega, 2010. "Measurement of price indices used by the central bank of Peru," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Monetary policy and the measurement of inflation: prices, wages and expectations, volume 49, pages 259-283 Bank for International Settlements.

    More about this item


    Dynamic Factor Models; Inflation; Phillips relation; Relative prices;

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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