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131 posts on "Inflation"
July 13, 2023

Inflating Away the Debt: The Debt‑Inflation Channel of German Hyperinflation

Photo: In the money delivery office of the Reichsbank in Berlin: table full of money notes with men looking over. Sign says Rauchen verboten, October 1923; source: Wikimedia.

The recent rise in price pressures around the world has reignited interest in understanding how inflation transmits to the real economy. Economists have long recognized that unexpected surges of inflation can redistribute wealth from creditors to debtors when debt contracts are written in nominal terms (see, for example, Fisher 1933). If debtors are financially constrained, this redistribution can affect real economic activity by relaxing financing constraints. This mechanism, which we call the debt-inflation channel, is well understood theoretically (for example, Gomes, Jermann, and Schmid 2016), but there is limited empirical evidence to substantiate it. In this post, we discuss new insights from one of the key events in monetary history: the Great German Inflation of 1919-23. Because this case of inflation was both surprising and extremely high, Germany’s experience helps shed light on how high inflation impacts firms’ economic activity through the erosion of their nominal debt burdens. These insights are based on a recently released research paper.

July 6, 2023

Where Is Inflation Persistence Coming From?

Elevated inflation continues to be a top-of-mind preoccupation for households, businesses, and policymakers. Why has the post-pandemic inflation proved so persistent? In a Liberty Street Economics post early in 2022, we introduced a measure designed to dissect the buildup of the inflationary pressures that emerged in mid-2021 and to understand where the sources of its persistence are. This measure, that we labeled Multivariate Core Trend (MCT) inflation analyzes whether inflation is short-lived or persistent, and whether it is concentrated in particular economic sectors or broad-based.

Posted at 11:00 am in Inflation, Macroeconomics | Permalink

The EGIs: Analyzing the Economy Through an Equitable Growth Lens

Dectorative image of collage of polaroids of diverse group of people portraits.

Inflation remains elevated, labor markets are close to the strongest they have been, real consumption is up year-over year, but all of these observations are with respect to averages.  Behind these macroeconomic trends can be widely varying experiences across different demographic and socioeconomic groups that make up our society. To provide researchers, practitioners, and the public with timely, regularly updated and comprehensive answers to these questions, we launched the Equitable Growth Indicators (EGIs)—a new tool to help foster the evolving discussion about economic inequality and equitable growth. To illustrate the utility of the EGIs, we provide examples of some striking differences in trends captured in the May release of the EGIs on inflation, real earnings, and real spending. More heterogeneity analysis and data are available at nyfed.org/egi.

June 23, 2023

The Credibility of Government Policies: Conference in Honor of Guillermo Calvo

Guillermo Calvo is a leading member of a group of economists who revolutionized macroeconomics by modeling how incentives and the anticipation of future policies affect aggregate outcomes. In celebration of his work, a conference was held in his honor at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and at Columbia University on February 22-24, 2023. The conference program can be found on the event website. A longer version of this post with additional detail on the proceedings can be found here.

June 22, 2023

Elevated Rent Expectations Continue to Pressure Low‑Income Households

illustration of person sitting on their suitcases outside of a house with a lock on the front door with the question: who feels most vulnerable.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2023 SCE Housing Survey, released in April, reported some novel data about expectations for home prices, interest rates, and mortgage refinancing. While the data showed a sharp drop in home price expectations, some of the most notable findings concern renters. In this post, we take a deeper dive into how renters’ expectations and financial situations have evolved over the past year. We find that both owners and renters expect rents to rise rapidly over the next year, albeit at a slower pace than last year. Furthermore, we also show that eviction expectations rose sharply over the past twelve months, and that this increase was most pronounced for those in the lowest quartile of the income distribution.

Posted at 2:00 pm in Equitable Growth, Housing, Inflation | Permalink
June 2, 2023

How Do Firms Adjust Prices in a High Inflation Environment?

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How do firms set prices? What factors do they consider, and to what extent are cost increases passed through to prices? While these are important questions in general, they become even more salient during periods of high inflation. In this blog post, we highlight preliminary results from ongoing research on firms’ price-setting behavior, a joint project between researchers at the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Cleveland, and New York. We use a combination of open-ended interviews and a quantitative survey in our analysis. Firms reported that the strength of demand was the most important factor affecting pricing decisions in recent years, while labor costs and maintaining steady profit margins were also highly important. Using three methodological approaches, we consistently estimate a rate of cost-price passthrough in the range of 60 percent for the representative firm over 2022-23—with considerable heterogeneity in this number across firms.

Posted at 10:00 am in Inflation | Permalink

MCT Update: Inflation Persistence Declined Significantly in April

Decorative photo: Closeup of sales receipt

This post presents an updated estimate of inflation persistence, following the release of personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price data for April 2023. The estimates are obtained by the Multivariate Core Trend (MCT), a model we introduced on Liberty Street Economics last year and covered most recently in a May post.  The MCT is a dynamic factor model estimated on monthly data for the seventeen major sectors of the PCE price index. It decomposes each sector’s inflation as the sum of a common trend, a sector-specific trend, a common transitory shock, and a sector-specific transitory shock. The trend in PCE inflation is constructed as the sum of the common and the sector-specific trends weighted by the expenditure shares. 

Posted at 7:00 am in Inflation, Macroeconomics | Permalink
May 23, 2023

Financial Stability and Interest Rates

Decorative photo: green image of coins with bar and line chart super imposed.

In a recent research paper we argue that interest rates have very different consequences for current versus future financial stability. In the short run, lower real rates mean higher asset prices and hence higher net worth for financial institutions. In the long run, lower real rates lead intermediaries to shift their portfolios toward risky assets, making them more vulnerable over time. In this post, we use a model to highlight the challenging trade-offs faced by policymakers in setting interest rates.

May 15, 2023

First‑Time Buyers Did Not Drive Strong House Price Appreciation in 2021

Photo of family moving into their first home; taking boxes out of a truck. Parents and two daughters.

In May 2022, Sam Khater—chief economist for Freddie Mac—argued that a surge in first-time buyers had been an important driver of the housing market the previous year. In contrast, using data from the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel, we find that the share of home purchases by first-time buyers fell in 2021. This suggests that other factors were important to the rapid increase in house prices in 2021. 

Posted at 7:00 am in Equitable Growth, Housing, Inflation | Permalink
May 5, 2023

MCT Update: Inflation Persistence Continued to Decline in March

Decorative photo: Closeup of sales receipt

This post presents an updated estimate of inflation persistence, following the release of personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price data for March 2023. The estimates are obtained by the Multivariate Core Trend (MCT), a model we introduced on Liberty Street Economics last year and covered most recently in a March post. The MCT is a dynamic factor model estimated on monthly data for the seventeen major sectors of the PCE price index. It decomposes each sector’s inflation as the sum of a common trend, a sector-specific trend, a common transitory shock, and a sector-specific transitory shock. The trend in PCE inflation is constructed as the sum of the common and the sector-specific trends weighted by the expenditure shares. 

Posted at 7:00 am in Inflation, Macroeconomics | Permalink
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