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Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices: Evidence from Survey Experiments

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Guillermo Cruces
  • Ricardo Perez-Truglia

Information frictions play a central role in the formation of household inflation expectations, but there is no consensus about their origins. We address this question with novel evidence from survey experiments. We document two main findings. First, individuals in lower-inflation contexts have significantly weaker priors about the inflation rate. This finding suggests that rational inattention may be an important source of information frictions. Second, cognitive limitations also appear to be a source of information frictions: even when information about inflation statistics is made readily available, individuals still place a significant weight on less accurate sources of information, such as their memories of the price changes of the supermarket products they purchase. We discuss the implications of these findings for macroeconomic models and policy-making.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00542.

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Date of creation: 2016
Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00542
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "What Can Survey Forecasts Tell Us about Information Rigidities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 116-159.
  2. Paul E. Carrillo & M. Shahe Emran, 2012. "Public Information and Inflation Expectations: Microeconometric Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 860-877, November.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328.
  4. David Barr & John Campbell, "undated". "Inflation, real interest rates and the bond market: a study of UK nominal and index-linked Government bond prices," CERF Discussion Paper Series 95-09, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  5. Francesco D'Acunto & Daniel Hoang & Michael Weber, 2016. "Unconventional Fiscal Policy, Inflation Expectations, and Consumption Expenditure," CESifo Working Paper Series 5793, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Rüdiger Bachmann & Tim O. Berg & Eric R. Sims, 2015. "Inflation Expectations and Readiness to Spend: Cross-Sectional Evidence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-35, February.
  7. Bruine de Bruin, Wändi & van der Klaauw, Wilbert & Topa, Giorgio, 2011. "Expectations of inflation: The biasing effect of thoughts about specific prices," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 834-845.
  8. Ranyard, Rob & Missier, Fabio Del & Bonini, Nicolao & Duxbury, Darren & Summers, Barbara, 2008. "Perceptions and expectations of price changes and inflation: A review and conceptual framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 378-400, August.
  9. Demery, David & Duck, Nigel W., 2007. "The theory of rational expectations and the interpretation of macroeconomic data," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-18, March.
  10. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2016. "Learning from Potentially Biased Statistics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 47(1 (Spring), pages 59-108.
  11. Sebastian J. Goerg & Johannes Kaiser, 2009. "Nonparametric testing of distributions—the Epps–Singleton two-sample test using the empirical characteristic function," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(3), pages 454-465, September.
  12. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774.
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