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Modelling Inflation Volatility


  • Eric Eisenstat

    () (University of Bucharest, Romania; RIMIR)

  • Rodney Strachan

    () (School of Economics, and Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, University of Queensland; The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, Italy)


This paper discusses estimation of US inflation volatility using time varying parameter models, in particular whether it should be modelled as a stationary or random walk stochastic process. Specifying inflation volatility as an unbounded process, as implied by the random walk, conflicts with priors beliefs, yet a stationary process cannot capture the low frequency behaviour commonly observed in estimates of volatility. We therefore propose an alternative model with a change-point process in the volatility that allows for switches between stationary models to capture changes in the level and dynamics over the past forty years. To accommodate the stationarity restriction, we develop a new representation that is equivalent to our model but is computationally more efficient. All models produce effectively identical estimates of volatility, but the change-point model provides more information on the level and persistence of volatility and the probabilities of changes. For example, we find a few well defined switches in the volatility process and, interestingly, these switches line up well with economic slowdowns or changes of the Federal Reserve Chair. Moreover, a decomposition of inflation shocks into permanent and transitory components shows that a spike in volatility in the late 2000s was entirely on the transitory side and a characterized by a rise above its long run mean level during a period of higher persistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Eisenstat & Rodney Strachan, 2014. "Modelling Inflation Volatility," Working Paper series 43_14, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:rim:rimwps:43_14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Drift and Volatilities: Monetary Policies and Outcomes in the Post WWII U.S," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 262-302, April.
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    3. Grassi Stefano & Proietti Tommaso, 2010. "Has the Volatility of U.S. Inflation Changed and How?," Journal of Time Series Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, September.
    4. Chan, Joshua C.C., 2013. "Moving average stochastic volatility models with application to inflation forecast," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 176(2), pages 162-172.
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    7. Ang, Andrew & Bekaert, Geert & Wei, Min, 2007. "Do macro variables, asset markets, or surveys forecast inflation better?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1163-1212, May.
    8. McCausland, William J. & Miller, Shirley & Pelletier, Denis, 2011. "Simulation smoothing for state-space models: A computational efficiency analysis," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 199-212, January.
    9. Chan, Joshua & Strachan, Rodney, 2012. "Estimation in Non-Linear Non-Gaussian State Space Models with Precision-Based Methods," MPRA Paper 39360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Stern, Steven, 1992. "A Method for Smoothing Simulated Moments of Discrete Probabilities in Multinomial Probit Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 943-952, July.
    11. Gary Koop & Simon M. Potter, 2007. "Estimation and Forecasting in Models with Multiple Breaks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 763-789.
    12. Jan J. J. Groen & Richard Paap & Francesco Ravazzolo, 2013. "Real-Time Inflation Forecasting in a Changing World," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1), pages 29-44, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dovern, Jonas & Feldkircher, Martin & Huber, Florian, 2016. "Does joint modelling of the world economy pay off? Evaluating global forecasts from a Bayesian GVAR," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 86-100.
    2. Joshua C.C. Chan & Angelia L. Grant, 2014. "Issues in Comparing Stochastic Volatility Models Using the Deviance Information Criterion," CAMA Working Papers 2014-51, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    3. repec:taf:jnlbes:v:35:y:2017:i:1:p:17-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Huber, Florian, 2014. "Density Forecasting using Bayesian Global Vector Autoregressions with Common Stochastic Volatility," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 4280, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    5. Joshua C. C. Chan, 2017. "The Stochastic Volatility in Mean Model With Time-Varying Parameters: An Application to Inflation Modeling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 17-28, January.
    6. Nonejad Nima, 2015. "Particle Gibbs with ancestor sampling for stochastic volatility models with: heavy tails, in mean effects, leverage, serial dependence and structural breaks," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 19(5), pages 561-584, December.
    7. Joshua C.C. Chan, 2015. "Specification tests for time-varying parameter models with stochastic volatility," CAMA Working Papers 2015-42, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    8. Daniele Bianchi & Massimo Guidolin & Francesco Ravazzolo, 2017. "Macroeconomic Factors Strike Back: A Bayesian Change-Point Model of Time-Varying Risk Exposures and Premia in the U.S. Cross-Section," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 110-129, January.
    9. Joshua C.C. Chan & Eric Eisenstat, 2015. "Bayesian model comparison for time-varying parameter VARs with stochastic volatility," CAMA Working Papers 2015-32, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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