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Inflation, relative prices and nominal rigidities

Author

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  • Luc Aucremanne

    () (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • Guy Brys

    (University of Antwerp, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science)

  • Mia Hubert

    (KULeuven, Department of Mathematics)

  • Peter J. Rousseeuw

    (University of Antwerp, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science)

  • Anja Struyf

    (University of Antwerp, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science)

Abstract

This paper examines the distribution of Belgian consumer prices and its interaction with aggregate inflation over the period June 1976-September 2000. Given the fat-tailed nature of this distribution, both classical and robust measures of location, scale and skewness are presented. We found a positive short-run impact of the skewness of relative prices on aggregate inflation, irrespective of the average inflation rate. The dispersion of relative prices has also a positive impact on aggregate inflation in the short run and this impact is significantly lower in the sub-sample starting in 1988 than in the pre-1988 sub-sample, suggesting that the prevailing monetary policy regime has a substantial effect on this coefficient. The chronic right skewness of the distribution, revealed by the robust measures, is positively cointegrated with aggregate inflation, suggesting that it is largely dependent on the inflationary process itself and would disappear at zero inflation. These results have three important implications for monetary policy. First, as to the transmission of monetary policy, our results are in line with the predictions of menu cost models and therefore suggest that this type of friction can be an important factor behind the short run non-neutrality of monetary policy. Second, as to the design of robust estimators of core inflation, economic arguments based on menu cost models tend to highlight the importance of the absence of bias. We have proposed an unbiased estimator by taking the time-varying degree of chronic right skewness explicitly into account. Third, as to the optimal rate of inflation, the chronic right skewness found in the data provides no argument against price stability, as it appears as an endogenous response of optimising price setters and would disappear when targeting a zero inflation rate. This conclusion contrasts sharply with the implications of the exogenously assumed downward rigidity of Tobin (1972), which would justify targeting a sufficiently positive inflation rate in order to facilitate the adjustment of relative prices. Our empirical findings contradict the latter type of downward rigidity which implies a negative correlation between skewness and inflation. Therefore, the cross-sectional properties of Belgian inflation data do not provide strong arguments against a price stability-oriented monetary policy, such as the one pursued by the Eurosystem.

Suggested Citation

  • Luc Aucremanne & Guy Brys & Mia Hubert & Peter J. Rousseeuw & Anja Struyf, 2002. "Inflation, relative prices and nominal rigidities," Working Paper Research 20, National Bank of Belgium.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:200205-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aucremanne, Luc & Dhyne, Emmanuel, 2004. "How frequently do prices change? Evidence based on the micro data underlying the Belgian CPI," Working Paper Series 331, European Central Bank.
    2. M. Angeles Caraballo & Carlos Dabus & Carlos Usabiaga, 2006. "Relative prices and inflation: new evidence from different inflationary contexts," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(16), pages 1931-1944.
    3. Claudio Borio & William English & Andrew Filardo, 2003. "A tale of two perspectives: old or new challenges for monetary policy?," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Monetary policy in a changing environment, volume 19, pages 1-59 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Craigwell, Roland & Moore, Winston & Morris, Diego & Worrell, DeLisle, 2011. "Price Rigidity: A Survey of Evidence From Micro-Level Data," MPRA Paper 40927, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Silvia Fabiani & Angela Gattulli & Roberto Sabbatini, 2003. "La rigidità dei prezzi in Italia," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 56(223), pages 325-358.
    6. Luc Aucremanne & Martine Druant, 2005. "Price-setting behaviour in Belgium: what can be learned from an ad hoc survey ?," Working Paper Research 65, National Bank of Belgium.
    7. Aucremanne, Luc & Druant, Martine, 2005. "Price-setting behaviour in Belgium: what can be learned from an ad hoc survey?," Working Paper Series 448, European Central Bank.
    8. Sartaj Rasool Rather, 2016. "Asymmetric Impact of Relative Price Shocks in Presence of Trend Inflation," Working Papers 2016-153, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.
    9. Constantina Kottaridi & Diego Méndez-Carbajo & Dimitrios D. Thomakos, 2007. "Inflation Dynamics and the Cross-Sectional Distribution of Prices in the E.U. Periphery," Working Paper series 43_07, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    10. M. Angeles Caraballo & Carlos Usabiaga, 2009. "The relevance of supply shocks for inflation: the spanish case," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(6), pages 753-764.
    11. Sartaj Rather, 2016. "Asymmetric Impact of Relative Price Shocks in Presence of Trend Inflation," Working Papers id:11477, eSocialSciences.
    12. Fabio Rumler & Alfred Stiglbauer & Josef Baumgartner, 2011. "Patterns and Determinants of Price Changes: Analysing Individual Consumer Prices in Austria," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 336-350, August.
    13. Fabiani, Silvia & Gattulli, Angela & Sabbatini, Roberto, 2004. "The pricing behaviour of Italian firms: new survey evidence on price stickiness," Working Paper Series 333, European Central Bank.
    14. María Ángeles Caraballo & Carlos Usabiaga, 2003. "Análisis de la estructura de la inflación de las regiones españolas: La metodología de Ball y Mankiw," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces E2003/44, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
    15. José Contreras & Nora Guarata, 2013. "Inflation and relative price variability in Venezuela," Economía, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (IIES). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Sociales. Universidad de Los Andes. Mérida, Venezuela, vol. 38(36), pages 85-122, July-Dece.
    16. Geert Langenus, 2006. "Fiscal sustainability indicators and policy design in the face of ageing," Working Paper Research 102, National Bank of Belgium.

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