Has the Volatility of U.S. Inflation Changed and How?

The local level model with stochastic volatility, recently proposed for U.S. Inflation by Stock and Watson (“Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?”, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Supplement to Vol. 39, No. 1, February 2007), provides a simple yet sufficiently rich framework for characterizing the evolution of the main stylized facts concerning the U.S. inflation. The model decomposes inflation into a permanent component, evolving as a random walk, and a transitory component. The volatility of the disturbances driving both components is allowed to vary over time. The paper provides a full Bayesian analysis of this model and readdresses some of the main issues that were raised by the literature concerning the evolution of persistence and predictability and the extent and timing of the great moderation. The assessment of various nested models of inflation volatility and systematic model selection provide strong evidence in favor of a model with heteroscedastic disturbances in the permanent component, whereas the transitory component has time invariant size. The main evidence is that the great moderation is over, and that volatility, persistence and predictability of inflation underwent a turning point around 1995. During the last decade, volatility and persistence have been increasing and predictability has been going down.

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The Journal of Time Series Econometrics (JTSE) serves as an internationally recognized outlet for important new research in both theoretical and applied classical and Bayesian time series, spatial and panel data econometrics. The scope of the journal includes papers dealing with estimation, testing and other methodological aspects involved in the application of time series and spatial analytic techniques to economic, financial and related data.

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