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Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Guillermo Cruces
  • Ricardo Perez-Truglia

Information frictions play a central role in the formation of household inflation expectations, but there is no consensus about their origins. We address this question with novel evidence from survey experiments. We document two main findings. First, individuals in lower-inflation contexts have significantly weaker priors about the inflation rate. This finding suggests that rational inattention may be an important source of information frictions. Second, cognitive limitations also appear to be a source of information frictions: even when information about inflation statistics is made readily available, individuals still place a significant weight on less accurate sources of information, such as their memories of the price changes of the supermarket products they purchase. We discuss the implications of these findings for macroeconomic models and policy-making.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20576.

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Date of creation: Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20576
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  1. Paul E. Carrillo & M. Shahe Emran, 2012. "Public Information and Inflation Expectations: Microeconometric Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 860-877, November.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328.
  3. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2015. "Is the Phillips Curve Alive and Well after All? Inflation Expectations and the Missing Disinflation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 197-232, January.
  4. David Barr & John Campbell, "undated". "Inflation, real interest rates and the bond market: a study of UK nominal and index-linked Government bond prices," CERF Discussion Paper Series 95-09, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  5. Michael W. M. Roos & Ulrich Schmidt, 2012. "The Importance of Time‐Series Extrapolation for Macroeconomic Expectations," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(2), pages 196-210, 05.
  6. Christian Hellwig, 2004. "Heterogeneous Information and the Benefits of Public Information Disclosures (October 2005)," UCLA Economics Online Papers 283, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Rüdiger Bachmann & Tim O. Berg & Eric R. Sims, 2015. "Inflation Expectations and Readiness to Spend: Cross-Sectional Evidence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-35, February.
  9. Andreas Fuster & David Laibson & Brock Mendel, 2010. "Natural Expectations and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 67-84, Fall.
  10. Cavallo, Alberto, 2013. "Online and official price indexes: Measuring Argentina's inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 152-165.
  11. Ranyard, Rob & Missier, Fabio Del & Bonini, Nicolao & Duxbury, Darren & Summers, Barbara, 2008. "Perceptions and expectations of price changes and inflation: A review and conceptual framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 378-400, August.
  12. Sebastian J. Goerg & Johannes Kaiser, 2009. "Nonparametric testing of distributions—the Epps–Singleton two-sample test using the empirical characteristic function," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(3), pages 454-465, September.
  13. Brachinger, Hans Wolfgang, 2008. "A new index of perceived inflation: Assumptions, method, and application to Germany," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 433-457, August.
  14. Christopher D. Carroll, 2003. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 269-298.
  15. Mary A. Burke & Michael Manz, 2011. "Economic literacy and inflation expectations: evidence from a laboratory experiment," Public Policy Discussion Paper 11-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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