Inflation and the Distribution of Price Changes

21 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2000 Last revised: 18 Oct 2007

See all articles by Michael F. Bryan

Michael F. Bryan

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Stephen G. Cecchetti

Brandeis International Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: October 1996

Abstract

its higher order moments, and in particular, its third moment the skewness of the price change distribution. Evidence on correlations between inflation and its moments goesback over thirty years, and was first used to reject the independence of relative price changes and inflation that is assumed in neo- classical models. More recently, New Keynesian macroeconomists have shown that the strong positive correlation between inflation and the skewness of the price change distribution is consistent with menu-cost models of price setting behavior. This is a fairly controversial result, prompting other researchers to demonstrate that the same correlation can be found in a multi- sector, flexible-price (real business cycle) model. We examine the small-sample properties of the main empirical finding on which this work is based: the positive correlation between the sample mean and sample skewness of price change distributions. Our results show that this particular statistic suffers from a large positive small-sample bias, and demonstrate that the entirety of the observed correlation can be explained by this bias. To the extent that we find any relationship at all, it is that the correlation is negative. In other words, we establish that one of the most accepted stylized facts in the literature on aggregate price behavior, that inflation and the skewness of the price change distribution are positively linked, need not be a fact at all.

Suggested Citation

Bryan, Michael F. and Cecchetti, Stephen G., Inflation and the Distribution of Price Changes (October 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5793. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225593

Michael F. Bryan

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland ( email )

PO Box 6387
Cleveland, OH 44101
United States

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

1000 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309-4470
United States

Stephen G. Cecchetti (Contact Author)

Brandeis International Business School ( email )

415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
212-720-8629 (Phone)
212-720-2630 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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