MIT News – “Intermittent attention, poor memory shape public perceptions of inflation”

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.
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Seeking Alpha – “Inflation Nation (Part 2) – What does our low inflation environment mean for investors?”

Inflation is an average. Prices in some areas are growing quickly, while others fall. That’s the way it has to be in a broadly diversified economy. The broadest measure of inflation – the personal consumption deflator – measures everything that consumers buy, and weights it by how much, then spend on those items.
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La Nación – “Por qué los economistas llegaron tarde al big data”

Como esta tecnología ofrece un gran volumen de datos, pero poca información sobre un aspecto particular, se demoró su adopción

“Cuando tenés un martillo todos los problemas se parecen a un clavo”, reza la así llamada ley del instrumento, enunciada por el filósofo americano Abraham Maslow allá por los sesenta en relación a la sobreconfianza en una herramienta, ya sea porque el analista invirtió demasiado en ella o porque está de moda.
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Infobae – “Un argentino y un venezolano miden su propia inflación con mil millones de precios por día”

Alberto Cavallo y Robert Rigobon, economistas del MIT, comenzaron con la web Inflación Verdadera tras la intervención del Indec, pero ahora estiman la suba de precios todos los días en más de 60 países.
La intervención del Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (Indec) produjo un giro académico para dos economistas a más de 8.500 kilómetros de distancia.
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The Sydney Morning Herald – “Why shopping online at Coles is more expensive than in stores”

Coles shoppers are paying a hefty premium on some groceries when they shop online and use the supermarket’s supposedly free “click and collect” service or home delivery.
Fairfax Media compared in-store and online prices on 10 popular brand label items at Coles and found eight of them were 10 per cent more expensive for online shoppers.
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Seeking Alpha – “Weekly Indicators: Introducing The Billion Prices Project Edition”

Monthly reports for February included new home sales, which set a new post-recession high, and existing home sales, also higher, and a higher CPI. Durable goods were down for the 4th time in 6 months, and the University of Michigan sentiment indicator improved from its first March reading, but has continued to back off its January post-recession high.
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Forbes – “Online Prices Indicate Russian Inflation Spike After Ruble Decline”

Russia’s economy looks eerily similar to the 1998 Russian financial crisis which was also characterized by significant declines in the price of oil, a significant decline in the Ruble, sharp hikes in the central bank’s key rate, and now a significant run-up in inflation according to data from PriceStats which tracks daily inflation in 22 countries including Russia by monitoring online prices.
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The Wall Street Journal – “Oil Is Dragging Down Prices Faster Than Official Price Index Can Capture”

onsumer prices around the world are pulling back so rapidly, along with the collapse of oil prices, that official measures of inflation have yet to capture the magnitude of the decline. But the Billion Prices Project, which scrapes the Internet daily to capture changing prices online, is recording a significant and broadening plunge in consumer prices.
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The Washington Post – “This billionaire thinks the Fed is missing the hyperinflation in the Hamptons”

The prices of houses in the Hamptons and high-end art are the “leading edge of hyperinflation.”
Never underestimate the ingenuity of inflation truthers. Every time it seems like they’ve hit rock bottom intellectually, they manage to come up with new and even more ridiculous reasons for why inflation is supposedly higher than the official numbers say it is.
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Bloomberg – “Another Reason Not to Fear Inflation”

The Fed shouldn’t worry too much about the recent surge in consumer prices. It’s most likely a catch-up after a tough winter.
U.S. inflation has been accelerating in recent months, presenting the Federal Reserve with a tricky question as it decides how quickly to remove stimulus from the U.S. economy: Is the rise in prices a precursor of things to come or simply a “catching up” phase as people begin to spend again after a brutal winter?
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Business Insider – “Now HERE’S Some Government Manipulated Economic Data”

A recent tweet by Jack Welch alleging that Friday’s jobs report was manipulated has sparked a ton of interest government data, and whether or not it is manipulated, or can be.
In a recent Fiscal Times piece (via Reuters), economist Mark Thoma makes a good defense of US data quality, while noting at the end that there are countries where manipulation does in fact happen.
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The Australian – “Central bankers’ window to go for broke”

Falling price pressures around the world will allow central banks to increase their use of monetary stimulus to boost growth, according to MIT economics professor, Albert Cavallo.
In an interview with Business Spectator, Cavallo said the world was now witnessing global disinflation. Indeed, there are now only three countries where inflation is not on a downward trajectory – Russia, South Africa and Brazil.
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The Economist – “Price in a trice”

Online retailers offer an immediate measure of inflation
IF THE inflationistas are right, where should they look for signs of accelerating price growth? Many are suspicious of official numbers: John Williams, the boss of an inflation-statistics website called ShadowStats.com, claims American inflation has been underestimated for decades because the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) regularly changes its basket of goods on the ground that consumers shy away from expensive items. And official data are slow to come out.
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The New Yorker – “A Billion Prices Now”

Between official government statistics, industry surveys, and Wall Street forecasts, it often seems like we’re drowning in data, often of uncertain value. But consider the alternative. In the early years of the Great Depression, it was clear that things were awful, but the government had few good figures to go on; there was no official G.D.P. number, and no solid information about unemployment.
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The New York Times – “Billion Price Preview”

One indicator I’ve been tracking lately is the MIT Billion Price Index; it basically tracks the goods component of the CPI, but of course has higher frequency, so it’s kind of an early warning indicator.
And the BPI has, of course, showed a bump in short-term inflation lately. My prediction was that this bump would prove largely temporary, just as previous blips — both positive and negative — have.
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Business Insider – “The Billion Prices Project And The Fed’s Next Move”

What happens when commodity prices rise by 30% in just 6 months and you have an environment with high unemployment, stagnant wages, and generally weak end demand? According to the Billion Prices Project you get a modest year over year increase in inflation rates. According to the most recent real-time reading the BPP is up 2.83% versus last year.
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Clarín – “Mil millones de precios y el sueño de un INDEC virtual”

A mediados de 2009, los economistas Vernon Henderson, Adam Storeygard y David Weil sorprendieron al ambiente académico con una idea disparatada y original: las fotos de la superficie terrestre tomadas por satélites desde el espacio exterior podían aportar un muy buen “proxi” para medir los incrementos de PBI en los países, prestando atención a las imágenes nocturnas de zonas iluminadas con luz artificial.
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The New York Times – “The Billion Price Index”

Some commenters have been claiming that the MIT Billion Price Index is telling a very different story from the official Consumer Price Index. So I guess it’s worth pointing out that it really matches pretty well.
What you need to realize is that the Billion Price Index, inevitably, only covers goods — not services. So it’s got a narrower focus than the CPI.
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MIT News – “The price is right”

How a new online tool can help measure inflation as accurately as — and more quickly than — traditional methods.
Inflation is a crucial economic indicator, since rising prices can hurt consumers and trigger political discontent. It is also hard to measure. In the United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics employees track over 20,000 prices in person or via phone, which are then aggregated into the Consumer Price Index, a monthly gauge of price levels.
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The New York Times – “10th Annual Year in Ideas – “The Real-Time Inflation Calculator”

Measuring inflation is a time-consuming business: at the beginning of each month, government researchers across the country amass troves of data on prices for everything from shoes to milk to phones. Two weeks after the end of the month, the government releases gauges of inflation like the Consumer Price Index. But inflation hunters may now get an advance glimpse of the data, thanks to a real-time inflation calculator devised by two economists at M.I.T., Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobon.
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