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Rethinking the measurement of household inflation expectations: preliminary findings

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Abstract

This paper reports preliminary findings from a Federal Reserve Bank of New York research program aimed at improving survey measures of inflation expectations. We find that seemingly small differences in how inflation is referred to in a survey can lead respondents to consider significantly different price concepts. For near-term inflation, the "prices in general" question in the monthly Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers can elicit responses that focus on the most visible prices, such as gasoline or food. Questions on the "rate of inflation" can lead to responses on the prices that U.S. citizens pay in general - an interpretation, or concept, closer to the definition of inflation that economists have in mind; they also lead to both lower levels of reported inflation and to lower disagreement among respondents. In addition, we present results associated with new survey questions that assess the degree of individual uncertainty about future inflation outcomes as well as future expected wage changes. Finally, using the panel dimension of the surveys, we find that individual responses exhibit considerable persistence, both in the expected level of inflation and in forecast uncertainty. Respondents who are more uncertain make larger revisions to their expectations in the next survey.

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  • Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Michael F. Bryan & Simon M. Potter & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2008. "Rethinking the measurement of household inflation expectations: preliminary findings," Staff Reports 359, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:359
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    Cited by:

    1. Lena Dräger, 2015. "Inflation perceptions and expectations in Sweden – Are media reports the missing link?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 77(5), pages 681-700, October.
    2. Easaw, Joshy & Golinelli, Roberto & Malgarini, Marco, 2013. "What determines households inflation expectations? Theory and evidence from a household survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-13.
    3. Olkhov, Victor, 2018. "Expectations, Price Fluctuations and Lorenz Attractor," MPRA Paper 89105, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Olkhov, Victor, 2019. "New Essentials of Economic Theory," MPRA Paper 95065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Lena Vogel & Jan-Oliver Menz & Ulrich Fritsche, 2009. "Prospect Theory and Inflation Perceptions - An Empirical Assessment," Macroeconomics and Finance Series 200903, University of Hamburg, Department of Socioeconomics.
    6. Nautz, Dieter & Pagenhardt, Laura & Strohsal, Till, 2017. "The (de-)anchoring of inflation expectations: New evidence from the euro area," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 103-115.
    7. Olkhov, Victor, 2019. "Methods of Economic Theory: Variables, Transactions and Expectations as Functions of Risks," MPRA Paper 95628, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Maxime Phillot & Rina Rosenblatt-Wisch, 2018. "Inflation Expectations: The Effect of Question Ordering on Forecast Inconsistencies," Working Papers 2018-11, Swiss National Bank.
    9. Dany-Knedlik, Geraldine & Holtemöller, Oliver, 2017. "Inflation dynamics during the financial crisis in Europe: Cross-sectional identification of long-run inflation expectations," IWH Discussion Papers 10/2017, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    10. Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Simon M. Potter & Robert W. Rich & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2010. "Improving survey measures of household inflation expectations," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 16(Aug/Sep).
    11. Elmar Mertens, 2016. "Measuring the Level and Uncertainty of Trend Inflation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(5), pages 950-967, December.
    12. Binder, Carola C., 2017. "Measuring uncertainty based on rounding: New method and application to inflation expectations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 1-12.
    13. Olkhov, Victor, 2019. "New essentials of economic theory II. Economic transactions, expectations and asset pricing," MPRA Paper 93428, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Gabriela Galati & Steven Poelhekke & Chen Zhou, 2011. "Did the Crisis Affect Inflation Expectations?," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 7(1), pages 167-207, March.
    15. Victor Olkhov, 2019. "Financial Variables, Market Transactions, and Expectations as Functions of Risk," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-27, November.
    16. Anderson, Soren T. & Kellogg, Ryan & Sallee, James M., 2013. "What do consumers believe about future gasoline prices?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 383-403.
    17. Ernest Gnan & Johannes Langthaler & Maria Teresa Valderrama, 2011. "Heterogeneity in Euro Area Consumers’ Inflation Expectations: Some Stylized Facts and Implications," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 2, pages 43-66.
    18. Lena Dr䧥r & Jan-Oliver Menz & Ulrich Fritsche, 2014. "Perceived inflation under loss aversion," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 282-293, January.

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    Keywords

    Economic surveys; Inflation (Finance); Economic indicators; Uncertainty;
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