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The price is right: updating of inflation expectations in a randomized price information experiment

  • Olivier Armantier
  • Scott Nelson
  • Giorgio Topa
  • Wilbert van der Klaauw
  • Basit Zafar

Understanding the formation of consumer inflation expectations is considered crucial for managing monetary policy. This paper investigates how consumers form and update their inflation expectations using a unique “information” experiment embedded in a survey. We first elicit respondents’ expectations for future inflation either in their own consumption basket or for the economy overall. We then randomly provide a subset of respondents with inflation-relevant information: either past-year food price inflation, or a median professional forecast of next-year overall inflation. Finally, inflation expectations are re-elicited from all respondents. This design creates unique panel data that allow us to identify the effects of new information on respondents’ inflation expectations. We find that respondents revise their inflation expectations in response to information, and do so meaningfully: revisions are proportional to the strength of the information signal, and inversely proportional to the precision of prior inflation expectations. We also find systematic differences in updating across demographic groups and by question wording, underscoring how different types of information may be more or less relevant for different groups, and how the observed impact of information may depend on methods used to elicit inflation expectations.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 543.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:543
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  1. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Olivier Armantier & Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Inflation expectations and behavior: Do survey respondents act on their beliefs?," Staff Reports 509, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Min Wei, 2005. "Do Macro Variables, Asset Markets or Surveys Forecast Inflation Better?," NBER Working Papers 11538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & Lutz Kilian, 2001. "Do We Really Know that Oil Caused the Great Stagflation? A Monetary Alternative," NBER Working Papers 8389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548, May.
  6. Armantier, Olivier & Treich, Nicolas, 2010. "Eliciting Beliefs: Proper Scoring Rules, Incentives, Stakes and Hedging," TSE Working Papers 10-156, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  7. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  8. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Determinants of college major choice: identification using an information experiment," Staff Reports 500, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  9. Ball, Laurence & Gregory Mankiw, N. & Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Monetary policy for inattentive economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 703-725, May.
  10. Jonung, Lars, 1981. "Perceived and Expected Rates of Inflation in Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 961-68, December.
  11. Robert D. J. Anderson, 2008. "US Consumer Inflation Expectations: Evidence Regarding Learning, Accuracy and Demographics," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 99, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
  12. Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Simon Potter & Robert 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).
  13. Carlos Madeira & Basit Zafar, 2012. "Heterogeneus Inflation Expectations Learning and Market Outcomes," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 667, Central Bank of Chile.
  14. 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 714-35, September.
  15. Michael J. Lamla & Sarah M. Lein, 2008. "The Role of Media for Consumers' Inflation Expectation Formation," KOF Working papers 08-201, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  16. Christopher D. Carroll, 2003. "Macroeconomic Expectations Of Households And Professional Forecasters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 269-298, February.
  17. Lanne, Markku & Luoma, Arto & Luoto, Jani, 2008. "A Naïve Sticky Information Model of Households’ Inflation Expectations," MPRA Paper 8663, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. David W. Carter & J. Walter Milon, 2005. "Price Knowledge in Household Demand for Utility Services," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(2).
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