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Testing near-rationality using detailed survey data

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Listed:
  • Michael F. Bryan
  • Stefan Palmqvist

Abstract

This paper considers the evidence of “near-rationality,” as described by Akerlof, Dickens, and Perry (2000). Using detailed surveys of household inflation expectations for the United States and Sweden, we find that the data are generally unsupportive of the near-rationality hypothesis. However, we document that household inflation expectations tend to settle around discrete and largely fixed “focal points,” suggesting that both U.S. and Swedish households gauge inflation prospects in rather broad, qualitative terms. Moreover, the combination of a low-inflation environment and an inflation target in Sweden has been accompanied by a disproportionately high proportion of Swedish households expecting no inflation. However, a similar low inflation trend in the United States, which does not have an explicit inflation target, reveals no such rise in the proportion of households expecting no inflation. This observation suggests that the way the central bank communicates its inflation objective may influence inflation expectations independently of the inflation trend it actually pursues.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael F. Bryan & Stefan Palmqvist, 2005. "Testing near-rationality using detailed survey data," Working Paper 0502, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0502
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lundborg, Per & Sacklén, Hans, 2003. "Low-Inflation Targeting and Unemployment Persistence," Working Paper Series 188, Trade Union Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Michael F. Bryan & Guhan Venkatu, 2001. "The curiously different inflation perspectives of men and women," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Nov.
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    4. Yash P. Mehra, 2002. "Survey measures of expected inflation : revisiting the issues of predictive content and rationality," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 17-36.
    5. Jushan Bai & Pierre Perron, 1998. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 47-78, January.
    6. Keane, Michael P & Runkle, David E, 1990. "Testing the Rationality of Price Forecasts: New Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 714-735, September.
    7. Kenneth N Kuttner, 2004. "A Snapshot of Inflation Targeting in its Adolescence," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & Simon Guttmann (ed.), The Future of Inflation Targeting Reserve Bank of Australia.
    8. George A. Akerlof & William T. Dickens & George L. Perry, 2000. "Near-Rational Wage and Price Setting and the Long-Run Phillips Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 1-60.
    9. Figlewski, Stephen & Wachtel, Paul, 1981. "The Formation of Inflationary Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 1-10, February.
    10. Christopher D Carroll, 2001. "The Epidemiology of Macroeconomic Expectations," Economics Working Paper Archive 462, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lance Kent, 2015. "Relaxing Rational Expectations," Working Papers 159, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    2. Sophocles N. Brissimis & Petros M. Migiakis, 2016. "Inflation persistence, learning dynamics and the rationality of inflation expectations," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 963-979, November.
    3. Sophocles N. Brissimis & Petros M. Migiakis, 2016. "Inflation persistence, learning dynamics and the rationality of inflation expectations," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 963-979, November.
    4. Pfajfar, Damjan, 2013. "Formation of rationally heterogeneous expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1434-1452.
    5. Curto Millet, Fabien, 2007. "Inflation Expectations, the Phillips Curve and Monetary Policy," Kiel Working Papers 1339, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Michael J. Lamla & Sarah Lein, 2010. "The Euro Cash Changeover, Inflation Perceptions and the Media," KOF Working papers 10-254, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    7. Balazs VARGA & Zsolt DARVAS, "undated". "Time-Varying Coefficient Methods to Measure Inflation Persistence," EcoMod2010 259600167, EcoMod.

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    Keywords

    Inflation (Finance) ; Rational expectations (Economic theory);

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