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Inflation Expectations and Readiness to Spend, Cross-Sectional Evidence

  • Eric R. Sims

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame)

There have recently been suggestions for monetary policy to engineer higher inflation expectations so as to stimulate current spending. But what is the empirical relationship between in?ation expectations and spending? We use the underlying micro data from the Michigan Survey of Consumers to test whether increased inflation expectations are indeed associated with greater reported readiness to spend. Cross-sectional data deliver the necessary variation to test whether the relationship between in?ation expectations and spending changes in the recent zero lower bound regime compared to normal times, as suggested by many standard models. We find that the impact of inflation expectations on the reported readiness to spend on durable goods is statistically insigni?cant and small in absolute value when compared to other variables, such as household income or expected business conditions. Moreover, it appears that higher expected price changes have an adverse impact on the reported readiness to spend. A one percent increase in expected in?ation reduces the probability that households have a positive attitude towards spending by about 0.1 percentage points. At the zero lower bound this small adverse effect remains, and is, if anything, slightly stronger. We also extend our analysis to the reported readiness to spend on cars and houses and obtain similar results. Altogether our results tell a cautionary tale for monetary (or fiscal) policy designed to engineer in?ation expectations in order to generate greater current spending.

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File URL: http://www3.nd.edu/~tjohns20/RePEc/deendus/wpaper/015_expectations.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 015.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision: Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:nod:wpaper:015
Contact details of provider: Postal: 434 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: (574) 631-7698
Web page: http://economics.nd.edu
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  1. Mackowiak, Bartosz Adam & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2010. "Business Cycle Dynamics under Rational Inattention," CEPR Discussion Papers 7691, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Olivier Coibion, 2010. "What can survey forecasts tell us about informational rigidities?," 2010 Meeting Papers 277, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2009. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," NBER Working Papers 15394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Nicholas Bloom, 2009. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 623-685, 05.
  5. Carlos Carvalho & Fernanda Nechio, 2013. "Do People Understand Monetary Policy?," Textos para discussão 618, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  6. S. Boragan Aruoba & Frank Schorfheide, 2009. "Sticky Prices Versus Monetary Frictions: An Estimation of Policy Trade-offs," NBER Working Papers 14870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  8. Gabaix, Xavier, 2012. "Boundedly Rational Dynamic Programming: Some Preliminary Results," CEPR Discussion Papers 8813, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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