The Consumer Price Index as a Measure of Inflation

23 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2007 Last revised: 15 Apr 2022

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

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

Date Written: October 1993

Abstract

As inflation approaches zero, it becomes increasingly important to examine the price indices on which monetary policy is based. The most popularly used aggregate price statistic in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a statistic that appears to be a focal point in monetary policy deliberations. A problem associated with using the CPI, a fixed weight index of the cost-of-living, is that there are likely to be biases in the index as a measure of inflation. In this paper we use a simple statistical framework to compute a price index that is immune to one of the potentially important biases inherent in the CPI as a measure of inflation--weighting bias. Utilizing a dynamic factor model we are able to compute the common inflation element in a broad cross-section of consumer price changes. Our conclusion is that, although there was a large positive weighting bias during the fifteen years beginning in 1967, since 1981 the weighting bias in the CPI as a measure of inflation has been insignificant.

Suggested Citation

Bryan, Michael F. and Cecchetti, Stephen G. and Cecchetti, Stephen G., The Consumer Price Index as a Measure of Inflation (October 1993). NBER Working Paper No. w4505, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=474013

Michael F. Bryan (Contact Author)

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

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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

Brandeis International Business School ( email )

415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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