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Household inflation expectations and consumer spending: evidence from panel data

Listed author(s):
  • Burke, Mary A.

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Ozdagli, Ali K.

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

With nominal interest rates at the zero lower bound, an important question for monetary policy is whether, as predicted in prior theoretical work, an increase in inflation expectations would boost current consumer spending. Using survey panel data for the period from April 2009 to November 2012, we examine the relationship between a household's inflation expectations and its current spending, taking into account other factors such as the household's wage growth expectations, the uncertainty surrounding its inflation expectations, macroeconomic conditions, and unobserved heterogeneity at the household level. We examine spending behavior for large consumer durables as well as for nondurable goods. No evidence is found that consumers increase their spending on large home appliances and electronics in response to an increase in their inflation expectations. In most models, the estimated effects are small, negative, and statistically insignificant. However, consumers do appear more likely to purchase a car as their short-run inflation expectations rise. Additionally, in some models, spending on nondurable goods increases with short-run expected inflation. These estimated effects on nondurables spending are modest, not highly robust, and appear to be driven by the behavior of homeowners who did not have a mortgage. These findings are surprising because theory predicts that consumption of durable goods should be more sensitive to real interest rates than consumption of nondurable goods. In addition, consumers in our sample, on average, did not expect their nominal income growth to match inflation, and therefore an increase in expected inflation would create a negative income effect that discourages spending in both the present and the future. The findings suggest that, as a policy measure, raising inflation expectations may not be effective in boosting present consumption.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 13-25.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 18 Dec 2013
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:13-25
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  1. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2013. "Measuring Total Household Spending in a Monthly Internet Survey: Evidence from the American Life Panel," NBER Chapters,in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, pages 365-387 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Austin Nichols, 2010. "Regression for nonnegative skewed dependent variables," BOS10 Stata Conference 2, Stata Users Group.
  3. 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.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  5. Alessandro Barattieri & Susanto Basu & Peter Gottschalk, 2014. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Wages," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 70-101, January.
  6. Hibiki Ichiue & Shusaku Nishiguchi, 2013. "Inflation Expectations and Consumer Spending at the Zero Bound: Micro Evidence," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 13-E-11, Bank of Japan.
  7. Manning, Willard G., 1998. "The logged dependent variable, heteroscedasticity, and the retransformation problem," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 283-295, June.
  8. Mary A. Burke & Michael Manz, 2011. "Economic literacy and inflation expectations: evidence from a laboratory experiment," Public Policy Discussion Paper 11-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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