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Marta Saez Moreno

17 July 2023
This paper provides an extensive literature review and analyses some open issues in the measurement of inflation that can only be explored in depth using micro price data. It builds on the analysis done in the context of the ECB’s strategy review, which pointed at directions for improvement of the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), including better quantification of potential biases. Two such biases are the substitution bias and the quality adjustment bias. Most analyses of substitution bias rest on the concept of the cost of living, positing that preferences are stable, homogeneous and homothetic. Consumer behaviour is characterised by preference shifts and heterogeneity, which influence the measurement of the cost of living and substitution bias. Climate change may make the impact of preference shifts particularly relevant as it causes the introduction of new varieties of “green” goods and services (zero-kilometre food, sustainable tourism) and a shift from “brown” to “green” products. Furthermore, PRISMA data show that consumption baskets and thus inflation vary across income classes (e.g. higher-income households tend to buy more expensive goods), pointing to non-homotheticity of preferences. When preferences are heterogeneous and/or non-homothetic, it is important to monitor different experiences of inflation across classes of consumers/citizens. This is particularly important when very large relative price changes affect items that enter the consumption baskets of the rich and the poor, the young and the old, in very different proportions. Another open area of analysis concerns the impact of quality adjustment on measured inflation. Evidence based on web-scraped prices shows that the various implicit quality adjustment methods can produce widely varying inflation trends when product churn is fast. In the euro area specifically, using different quality adjustment methods can be an overlooked source of divergent inflation trends in sub-categories, and, if pervasive, shows up in overall measured inflation divergence across countries.
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
11 November 2021
Economic Bulletin Issue 7, 2021
In the wake of the ECB’s new monetary policy strategy, a special survey was conducted among the panel of participants in the ECB’s Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF). The aim of the survey was to gain an insight into how the participants in the regular SPF survey have assessed the new strategy and into whether it has already had, or will have, an impact on their forecasts. Overall, respondents considered the new strategy to be an improvement, identifying the clearer inflation target (2%) and explicit commitment to symmetry as key elements. Regarding the impact on macroeconomic forecasts, around one-third of respondents indicated that they had revised their point longer-term inflation expectations, and a slightly larger portion indicated that they had revised (up) the balance of risks surrounding those expectations in response to the new strategy. The results of the survey suggest there is a strong correlation between what respondents viewed as key aspects in the new strategy and what they viewed as key improvements compared with the previous strategy.
JEL Code
E37 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies
D84 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Expectations, Speculations