How Much Do Official Price Indexes Tell Us about Inflation?
Official price indexes, such as the CPI, are imperfect indicators of inflation calculated using ad hoc price formulae different from the theoretically well-founded inflation indexes favored by economists. This paper provides the first estimate of how accurately the CPI informs us about "true" inflation. We use the largest price and quantity dataset ever employed in economics to build a Törnqvist inflation index for Japan between 1989 and 2010. Our comparison of this true inflation index with the CPI indicates that the CPI bias is not constant but depends on the level of inflation. We show the informativeness of the CPI rises with inflation. When measured inflation is low (less than 2.4% per year) the CPI is a poor predictor of true inflation even over 12-month periods. Outside this range, the CPI is a much better measure of inflation. We find that the U.S. PCE Deflator methodology is superior to the Japanese CPI methodology but still exhibits substantial measurement error and biases rendering it a problematic predictor of inflation in low inflation regimes as well.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jerry Hausman, 2003. "Sources of Bias and Solutions to Bias in the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 23-44, Winter.
- Ball, Laurence, 1992.
"Why does high inflation raise inflation uncertainty?,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 371-388, June.
- Laurence Ball, 1990. "Why Does High Inflation Raise Inflation Uncertainty?," NBER Working Papers 3224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michael T. Kiley, 1996.
"Endogenous price stickiness and business cycle persistence,"
Finance and Economics Discussion Series
96-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Kiley, Michael T, 2000. "Endogenous Price Stickiness and Business Cycle Persistence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(1), pages 28-53, February.
- Parks, Richard W, 1978. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-95, February.
- Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2010.
"Product Creation and Destruction: Evidence and Price Implications,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 691-723, June.
- Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2007. "Product Creation and Destruction: Evidence and Price Implications," NBER Working Papers 13041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stockton, David J, 1988. "Relative Price Dispersion, Aggregate Price Movement, and the Natural Rate of Unemployment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 1-22, January.
- David E. Lebow & Jeremy B. Rudd, 2003. "Measurement Error in the Consumer Price Index: Where Do We Stand?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 159-201, March.
- Abe, Naohito & Tonogi, Akiyuki, 2010. "Micro and macro price dynamics in daily data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 716-728, September.
- Friedman, Milton, 1977. "Nobel Lecture: Inflation and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 451-72, June.
- Vining, Daniel R, Jr & Elwertowski, Thomas C, 1976. "The Relationship between Relative Prices and the General Price Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 699-708, September.
- Stanley Fischer, 1981. "Relative Shocks, Relative Price Variability, and Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 381-442.
- Etienne Gagnon, 2009. "Price Setting during Low and High Inflation: Evidence from Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1221-1263.
- Aoki, Kosuke, 2003. "On the optimal monetary policy response to noisy indicators," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 501-523, April.
- Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer, 1988. "The New Keynsesian Economics and the Output-Inflation Trade-off," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 1-82.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19504. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.