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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. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2003. "Monetary Policy for Inattentive Economies," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1997, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Min Wei, 2006. "Do macro variables, asset markets, or surveys forecast inflation better?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Lamla, Michael J. & Lein, Sarah M., 2014. "The role of media for consumers’ inflation expectation formation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 62-77.
  4. Jonung, Lars, 1981. "Perceived and Expected Rates of Inflation in Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 961-68, December.
  5. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Determinants of college major choice: identification using an information experiment," Staff Reports 500, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. 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.
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  8. David W. Carter & J. Walter Milon, 2005. "Price Knowledge in Household Demand for Utility Services," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(2).
  9. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  10. Lanne, Markku & Luoma, Arto & Luoto, Jani, 2009. "A naïve sticky information model of households' inflation expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1332-1344, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Carlos Madeira & Basit Zafar, 2012. "Heterogeneous inflation expectations, learning, and market outcomes," Staff Reports 536, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Wilbert van der Klaauw & Wandi Bruine de Bruin & Giorgio Topa & Basit Zafar & Olivier Armantier, 2012. "Inflation Expectations and Behavior: Do Survey Respondents Act on their Beliefs?," 2012 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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).
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