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Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices

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  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Guillermo Cruces
  • Ricardo Perez-Truglia

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2014. "Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices," NBER Working Papers 20576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20576
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2020. "How Do Expectations about the Macroeconomy Affect Personal Expectations and Behavior?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 731-748, October.
    2. Goldfayn-Frank, Olga & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2018. "How do consumers adapt to a new environment in their economic forecasting? Evidence from the German reunification," IMFS Working Paper Series 129, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
    3. Alberto Cavallo, 2017. "Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-channel Retailers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 283-303, January.
    4. Lergetporer, Philipp & Woessmann, Ludger, 2019. "The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: How Information and Design Affect Public Preferences for Tuition," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 145, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    5. Sukudhew (Sukhdave) Singh, 2016. "Economic changes, inflation dynamics and policy responses: the Malaysian experience," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Inflation mechanisms, expectations and monetary policy, volume 89, pages 231-245, Bank for International Settlements.
    6. Alexander Ballantyne & Christian Gillitzer & David Jacobs & Ewan Rankin, 2016. "Disagreement about Inflation Expectations," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2016-02, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    7. Naohito Abe & Yuko Ueno, 2016. "The Mechanism of Inflation Expectation Formation among Consumers," UTokyo Price Project Working Paper Series 064, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Theresa Kuchler & Basit Zafar, 2019. "Personal Experiences and Expectations about Aggregate Outcomes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 74(5), pages 2491-2542, October.
    9. Haaland, Ingar & Roth, Christopher, 2019. "Beliefs About Racial Discrimination and Support for Pro-Black Policies," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 2/2019, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    10. Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 151-178, Spring.
    11. Olympia Bover, 2015. "Measuring expectations from household surveys: new results on subjective probabilities of future house prices," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 361-405, November.
    12. Abe, Naohito & Ueno, Yuko, 2015. "Measuring Inflation Expectations: Consumers' Heterogeneity and Nonlinearity," RCESR Discussion Paper Series DP15-5, Research Center for Economic and Social Risks, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    13. George-Marios Angeletos & Chen Lian, 2016. "Incomplete Information in Macroeconomics: Accommodating Frictions in Coordination," NBER Working Papers 22297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Hans-Ueli Hunziker & Christian Raggi & Rina Rosenblatt-Wisch & Attilio Zanetti, 2018. "The impact of guidance, short-term dynamics and individual characteristics on firms' long-term inflation expectations," Working Papers 2018-18, Swiss National Bank.
    15. Koichiro Kamada & Jouchi Nakajima & Shusaku Nishiguchi, 2015. "Are Household Inflation Expectations Anchored in Japan?," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 15-E-8, Bank of Japan.
    16. Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2020. "How Do Expectations about the Macroeconomy Affect Personal Expectations and Behavior?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 731-748, October.
    17. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2016. "Learning from Potentially-Biased Statistics: Household Inflation Perceptions and Expectations in Argentina," NBER Working Papers 22103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Xu, Yingying & Chang, Hsu-Ling & Lobonţ, Oana-Ramona & Su, Chi-Wei, 2016. "Modeling heterogeneous inflation expectations: empirical evidence from demographic data?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 153-163.
    19. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2016. "Learning from Potentially Biased Statistics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 47(1 (Spring), pages 59-108.
    20. Abe, Naohito & Ueno, Yuko, 2016. "The Mechanism of Inflation Expectation Formation among Consumers," RCESR Discussion Paper Series DP16-1, Research Center for Economic and Social Risks, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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