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The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Roberto Rigobon

New data-gathering techniques, often referred to as “Big Data” have the potential to improve statistics and empirical research in economics. In this paper we describe our work with online data at the Billion Prices Project at MIT and discuss key lessons for both inflation measurement and some fundamental research questions in macro and international economics. In particular, we show how online prices can be used to construct daily price indexes in multiple countries and to avoid measurement biases that distort evidence of price stickiness and international relative prices. We emphasize how Big Data technologies are providing macro and international economists with opportunities to stop treating the data as “given” and to get directly involved with data collection.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 22111.

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Date of creation: Mar 2016
Publication status: published as Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol 30(2), pages 151-178.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22111
Note: IFM ME
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  1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  2. Mark Doms & Ana M. Aizcorbe & Carol Corrado, 2003. "When do matched-model and hedonic techniques yield similar measures?," Working Paper Series 2003-14, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Taylor, Alan M, 2001. "Potential Pitfalls for the Purchasing-Power-Parity Puzzle? Sampling and Specification Biases in Mean-Reversion Tests of the Law of One Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 473-498, March.
  4. Woodford, Michael, 2009. "Information-constrained state-dependent pricing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(S), pages 100-124.
  5. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Benjamin Eden, 2014. "Rigid Prices: Evidence From U.S. Scanner Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 423-442, 05.
  6. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2014. "Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices," NBER Working Papers 20576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alberto Cavallo, 2015. "Scraped Data and Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 21490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Viacheslav Sheremirov & Oleksandr Talavera, 2014. "Price Setting in Online Markets: Does IT Click?," NBER Working Papers 20819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alan M. Taylor & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "The Purchasing Power Parity Debate," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 135-158, Fall.
  10. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Price Rigidity: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 133-163, May.
  11. Alberto Cavallo & Eduardo Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2014. "Prices and Supply Disruptions during Natural Disasters," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S2), pages 449-471, November.
  12. Emmanuel Dhyne & Luis J. Alvarez & Herve Le Bihan & Giovanni Veronese & Daniel Dias & Johannes Hoffmann & Nicole Jonker & Patrick Lunnemann & Fabio Rumler & Jouko Vilmunen, 2006. "Price Changes in the Euro Area and the United States: Some Facts from Individual Consumer Price Data," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 171-192, Spring.
  13. 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.
  14. Cavallo, Alberto, 2013. "Online and official price indexes: Measuring Argentina's inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 152-165.
  15. Martin Eichenbaum & Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo & Josephine Smith, 2014. "How Frequent Are Small Price Changes?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 137-155, April.
  16. Benjamin Edelman, 2012. "Using Internet Data for Economic Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 189-206, Spring.
  17. Virgiliu Midrigan, 2011. "Menu Costs, Multiproduct Firms, and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1139-1180, 07.
  18. Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2011. "The Distribution of the Size of Price Changes," NBER Working Papers 16760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Robert C. Feenstra & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2003. "Introduction to "Scanner Data and Price Indexes"," NBER Chapters,in: Scanner Data and Price Indexes, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Robert C. Feenstra & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2003. "Scanner Data and Price Indexes," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feen03-1, Enero-Jun.
  21. Hal R. Varian, 2014. "Big Data: New Tricks for Econometrics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
  22. repec:bla:revinw:v:60:y:2014:i::p:s449-s471 is not listed on IDEAS
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