Initiatives and Related Projects
Some practical applications of our research
Inflacion Verdadera Argentina
A daily inflation index for Argentina. Published from 2007 to 2018 as an alternative to the official CPI which was manipulated by the government during the period 2007-2016. This is how we first started using online prices to measure inflation.
Inflacion Verdadera Venezuela
Our latest project using mobile phones and crowd-sourcing to measure Venezuela’s inflation rate
An attempt to validate online data and better understand how offline pricing behaviors are being affected by the web and mobile browsing/price‐checking technologies.
PriceStats Daily Inflation and PPP Statistics
PriceStats is the company that collects the online prices used by the BPP. It currently publishes daily inflation and PPP indices in over 20 countries. Click here for a historical comparison of the US Online Index and the CPI.
What we do
The Billion Prices Project is an academic initiative that uses prices collected from hundreds of online retailers around the world on a daily basis to conduct research in macro and international economics. It was founded in 2008 by Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobon. This page shows our most recent research and links to related projects.
More than 1000
Countries with Data
From 2008 on
News and Media
Amazon is used to fielding accusations: that it has killed off physical retail business, that it mistreats warehouse workers, that it abuses its dominant platform in online sales. So perhaps it is not a surprise that some people also blame it for low inflation. In 2017 Janet Yellen, then chair of the Federal Reserve, wondered aloud if cut-throat online competition might be stopping goods-producers raising prices even in a world of rising demand. Alberto Cavallo of Harvard Business School has found that Amazon’s prices are 6% lower than those of eight large retailers, and 5% lower than on those retailers’ websites.
Donald Trump has threatened to impose a sweeping new round of trade tariffs against imports from China. According to analysis by Reuters, it would mean 92% of hardware sold by Apple would face levies.
If the tariffs are indeed imposed in December, it could mean several outcomes – none of which Apple will be particularly keen on, explained Alberto Cavallo, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.
The reality is that offline and online price levels are identical about 72 per cent of the time. The figure is based on a study by Harvard Business School’s Associate Professor Alberto Cavallo, whose research covered 24,000 products in 10 countries, including Australia, China and Japan.
Drugstores and office-product retailers have the lowest share of identical prices, while electronics and clothing stores have the most.
Weimar! Zimbabwe! These were the historical precedents genuinely expressed a decade ago about what an unprecedented experiment in monetary policy would do to advanced industrial economies. A huge expansion of the money supply, through quantitative easing, and near-zero interest rates might be an immediate palliative in a deep recession but they’d spark an inflationary crisis later on. And high inflation wipes out savings and destroys living standards.
A study published last year by Alberto Cavallo, a Harvard Business School marketing professor, found that price changes across the U.S. retailing industry have become more frequent over the last decade because of online competition.
US exporters have been slashing the prices of goods they sell to China to offset higher trade costs, but Chinese exporters are passing those costs to American companies, research by Alberto F. Cavallo says.
Retailers are now shifting prices every 3.6 months, Harvard Business School research shows.
While e-commerce is driving retailers to change prices more frequently, it is also leading to more uniform pricing across online and offline retailers.
A paper by Alberto Cavallo of Harvard University found evidence that the algorithms used by internet-based retail giants like Amazon to constantly change and adjust prices have led to greater price fluctuations in response to various macroeconomic shocks. This so-called ‘Amazon Effect’ not only forces brick-and-mortar outlets to respond in a similar manner but also
-> Continue reading The Amazon effects and monopsony
The influence of a growing online retail industry increases consumers’ exposure to the fluctuations of energy prices and exchange rates.
According to Harvard Business School professor Alberto Cavallo, e-commerce is flatlining competition.
Prices for groceries sold by Walmart vary less from one store to another when Amazon markets the same references.
Russell Lynch: Topsy-turvy world of rising interest rates and falling mortgage costs won’t last for ever
Amazon Effect: researcher claims web giant’s low prices keep inflation in check
Retailers adjusting prices more frequently and uniformly across locations should react faster to economic shocks, shows a recent study
Competition between Amazon and traditional retailers is causing prices to become more uniform
A discussion on creating measures of the true inflation in Argentina and Venezuela
MIT Sloan professor Roberto Rigobon and Harvard University professor Alberto Cavallo are the co-founders of the Billion Prices Project. The project collects prices — it has around 15 million prices today — provided by online retailers around the world. The public data is used to conduct research in macroeconomics and international economics. The professors say
-> Continue reading Measuring the Facts: Using Data to Tell the True Story of Inflation
A new study argues that the growth of Amazon and other online retailers has kept inflation and prices low in the U.S. Will Israel and other Middle Eastern economies follow suit and allow e-commerce to take off?
Online competition increases the frequency and uniformity of price changes at brick-and-mortar retailers.
Alberto Cavallo, who works as an associate professor in the Harvard said that in the last 10 years, the competition in the online retailing has increased the price change frequency along with the uniform pricing degree across all the location.
Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its much anticipated annual central banking conference in Jackson Hole. This year’s topic “Changing Market Structures and Implications for Monetary Policy” garnered even more attention than usual.
Harvard Business School found that the average duration for regular price changes fell to 3.65 months in 2014 to 2017 from 6.7 months in 2008 to 2010. It also investigated how prices at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Safeway vary across geographic locations. Harvard’s Alberto Cavallo concludes that the paper’s most important finding is that
-> Continue reading Under ‘Amazon effect’ retailers could be more exposed to supply shocks
A discussion of competition and “superstar” firms at an exclusive economic policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, threw up a spirited defense of global trade, while central bankers were also warned of the low level of trust they have among the public.
When thinking about the “Amazon Effect,” one may think invariably about retail, and the impact the eCommerce giant has on the sector — changing the very nature of how everything from books to clothes are bought and brought to end customers.
Harvard University professor Alberto Cavallo presents a paper at Kansas City Fed’s annual economic symposium
The increase in popularity and decrease in prices from Amazon may be to blame for the rise in inflation over the last few years, reports Reuters.
Retailers’ prices have grown more uniform across locations, finds a paper presented at Jackson Hole
It is an area rich in data waiting to be mined–and the results could bring more clarity to India’s perennial inflation debates.
Desbordado por las alzas, salidas de quicio, el gobierno de Maduro abandonó informes sobre precious.
For nine years, from 2007 to 2015, the Argentine government manipulated economic statistics in an attempt to fool the public into believing inflation was lower than it actually was. Citizens, however, didn’t buy it. In fact, they showed a remarkable aptitude for seeing through the claims.
Organisations like the Bank and the Office for National Statistics can now draw on exponentially more data to produce their assessments of how the country is performing.
The goal of mapping economic activity in real time, just as we do for weather or traffic, is “closer than ever to being within our grasp”, according to Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist.
PriceStats, based on MIT’s Billion Prices Project, takes a daily temperature using online sales.
Mining digital information for accurate, up-to-date economic snapshots could help officials make quicker and better decisions
Economics in central banking: Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobon – Billion Prices Project/PriceStats – Central Banking
Through a vast and ongoing data-collecting exercise, PriceStats has helped central banks overcome many of the drawbacks inherent in traditional inflation series.
The growth of e-commerce is well understood, tracking the smartphone’s ubiquity and a global supply chain that delivers consumer goods quickly and cheaply. Its impact on inflation—the so-called Amazon effect—is still being explored by economists.
In public debates about economic policy, it can be hard to separate real insights from political posturing. But a few simple rules of thumb can help.
The recent financial crisis, and the euro area sovereign debt crisis that followed, were characterised by periods of increased heterogeneity, market fragmentation and sudden turns in economic activity. This often made it difficult for economic policymakers to understand and assess in real time the underlying forces driving economic behaviour. Both traditional statistical datasets and our
-> Continue reading Policy analysis with big data -ECB Press
Alberto Cavallo ajudou a elaborar uma pesquisa de preços on-line e criou portal que mede as variações na Argentina e Venezuela .
La inflación venezolana es de tal magnitud que da para experimentos. En el Instituto Tecnológico de Massachussets, en Estados Unidos, comenzaron uno hace tres meses: medir la inflación, esa que descose los bolsillos de los ciudadanos, con ayuda de los mismos que la padecen.
The purchasing power of one dollar is worth more online, according to software company Adobe’s Digital Price Index, which looked at online and offline spending. If consumers had shifted all of their offline spending last year to online, that difference would have meant saving about $2.2 billion, it estimated.
New price data from Adobe Systems Inc., released today, show that online increased its price advantage vs. offline over the past two years. Logically speaking, though, the gap can’t keep widening forever. And there are some hints in the data that online’s edge is already—well, not going away, but approaching its limit.
Big Data se define como la masividad de datos producidos por interacciones electrónicas a través de teléfonos celulares, transacciones online o redes sociales. Lleva el nombre de “big” por la enorme cantidad de datos que se generan a partir de las interacciones electrónicas entre personas.
En épocas en las que la Argentina atravesaba el “apagón estadístico”, con cifras oficiales adulteradas sobre inflación, pobreza o PBI, el sitio InflaciónVeradera.com fue una referencia para determinar la evolución real de los precios de la economía.
Do you know your country’s current inflation rate? What do you think it will be in the future? And how do you, personally, try to plan your finances accordingly?
Those are important questions for economists and policymakers, because central bankers generally assess future expectations of inflation when setting interest rates.
Tomorrow’s Prices – An interview with Alberto Cavallo on why consumers have such a hard time thinking about inflation – AEA Web
We see prices every day. Whether we are grocery shopping, going to the movies, or filling up our cars with gas, we notice the prices of what we buy and how they change over time.
Adrian Ash, of BullionVault, writes exclusively for What Investment on the outlook for the gold price as inflation and interest rates rise.
Alongside Russia-US tensions and crisis-driven spikes in the oil price, suddenly inflation is back making headlines.
Everyone knew something was wrong. Between 2007 and 2011, the Argentine government claimed inflation was running at an average of 8 per cent but the numbers did not tally with what households were experiencing.
Statistics imply that real wages may be falling by 0.6% annually – compared with the 0.9% growth rate indicated by official data.
Prices in the UK are now rising at an annual rate of more than 3% in the latest evidence of economic fallout from the EU referendum, according to figures seen by Sky News.
In the dying days of 2015 came news to set any geek’s pulse racing: the declaration of a “statistical emergency” by Mauricio Macri, the new president of Argentina. Macri’s move enabled Jorge Todesca, head of the statistics bureau, to suspend publication of some basic economic data.