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Expectations of inflation: the biasing effect of thoughts about specific prices

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Abstract

National surveys follow consumers' expectations of future inflation, because they may directly affect the economic choices they make, indirectly affect macroeconomic outcomes, and be considered in monetary policy. Yet relatively little is known about how individuals form the inflation expectations they report on consumer surveys. Medians of reported inflation expectations tend to track official estimates of realized inflation, but show large disagreement between respondents, due to some expecting seemingly extreme inflation. We present two studies to examine whether individuals who consider specific price changes when forming their inflation expectations report more extreme and disagreeing inflation expectations due to focusing on specific extreme price changes. In Study 1, participants who were instructed to recall any price changes or to recall the largest price changes both thought of various items for which price changes were perceived to have been extreme. Moreover, they reported more extreme year-ahead inflation expectations and showed more disagreement than did a third group that had been asked to recall the average change in price changes. Study 2 asked participants to report their year-ahead inflation expectations, without first prompting them to recall specific price changes. Half of participants nevertheless thought of specific prices when generating their inflation expectations. Those who thought of specific prices reported more extreme and more disagreeing inflation expectations, because they were biased toward various items associated with more extreme perceived price changes. Our findings provide new insights into expectation formation processes and have implications for the design of survey-based measures of inflation.

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  • Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2011. "Expectations of inflation: the biasing effect of thoughts about specific prices," Staff Reports 489, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:489
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Which Measure of Inflation Should a Central Bank Target?
      by noreply@blogger.com (Carola) in Quantitative Ease on 2015-09-06 17:04:00
    2. Are we expecting too much inflation? : CPI vs. University of Michigan’s survey of consumers’ inflation expectations
      by ? in FRED blog on 2021-03-25 13:00:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Sandor Axelrod & David E. Lebow & Ekaterina V. Peneva, 2018. "Perceptions and Expectations of Inflation by U.S. Households," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-073, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Claire Greene & Scott Schuh & Joanna Stavins, 2017. "The 2015 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice: summary results," Research Data Report 17-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    3. Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2020. "How Do Expectations about the Macroeconomy Affect Personal Expectations and Behavior?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 731-748, October.
    4. Alycia Chin & Wändi Bruin, 2017. "Understanding the Formation of Consumers' Stock Market Expectations," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 200-210, March.
    5. Alexander Ballantyne & Christian Gillitzer & David Jacobs & Ewan Rankin, 2016. "Disagreement about Inflation Expectations," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2016-02, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    6. Goyal, Ashima & Parab, Prashant, 2021. "What influences aggregate inflation expectations of households in India?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    7. Bruine de Bruin, Wändi & van der Klaauw, Wilbert & van Rooij, Maarten & Teppa, Federica & de Vos, Klaas, 2017. "Measuring expectations of inflation: Effects of survey mode, wording, and opportunities to revise," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 45-58.
    8. Olivier Armantier & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert Van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2017. "An overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue 23-2, pages 51-72.
    9. Yiqun Gloria Chen, 2019. "Inflation, Inflation Expectations, and the Phillips Curve: Working Paper 2019-07," Working Papers 55501, Congressional Budget Office.
    10. Nam, Minho & Go, Minji, 2018. "Nexus between Inflation, Inflation Perceptions and Expectations," KDI Journal of Economic Policy, Korea Development Institute (KDI), vol. 40(3), pages 45-68.
    11. Bruine de Bruin, Wändi & van der Klaauw, Wilbert & Topa, Giorgio & Downs, Julie S. & Fischhoff, Baruch & Armantier, Olivier, 2012. "The effect of question wording on consumers’ reported inflation expectations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 749-757.
    12. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2017. "Inflation Expectations, Learning, and Supermarket Prices: Evidence from Survey Experiments," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 1-35, July.
    13. Sara Suarez-Fernandez & Maria Jose Perez-Villadoniga & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez, 2018. "Are We (Un)Consciously Driven by First Impressions? Price Declarations vs. Observed Cinema Demand when VAT Increases," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-02-2018, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Jul 2018.
    14. Stanisławska, Ewa & Paloviita, Maritta, 2021. "Medium- vs. short-term consumer inflation expectations : evidence from a new euro area survey," Research Discussion Papers 10/2021, Bank of Finland.
    15. Francesco D’Acunto & Ulrike Malmendier & Juan Ospina & Michael Weber, 2019. "Exposure to Daily Price Changes and Inflation Expectations," NBER Working Papers 26237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Maurizio Bovi & Roy Cerqueti, 2016. "Forecasting macroeconomic fundamentals in economic crises," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 247(2), pages 451-469, December.
    17. Binder, Carola Conces, 2018. "Inflation expectations and the price at the pump," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-18.
    18. 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.
    19. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2016. "Learning from Potentially-Biased Statistics: Household Inflation Perceptions and Expectations in Argentina," NBER Working Papers 22103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Farreras, Verónica & Riera, Pere & Salvador, Pablo F., 2017. "Environmental Valuation With Periodical Payments in High-inflation Economies. An Argentinean Case Study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 56-63.
    21. Xu, Yingying & Chang, Hsu-Ling & Lobonţ, Oana-Ramona & Su, Chi-Wei, 2016. "Modeling heterogeneous inflation expectations: empirical evidence from demographic data?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 153-163.
    22. James Hebden & Edward P. Herbst & Jenny Tang & Giorgio Topa & Fabian Winkler, 2020. "How Robust Are Makeup Strategies to Key Alternative Assumptions?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-069, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    23. Heger, Stephanie A. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2018. "We should totally open a restaurant: How optimism and overconfidence affect beliefs," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 177-190.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inflation (Finance); Prices; Consumer surveys;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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