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The cpi and core inflation index

Imagine if you were driving a company truck across the country- you probably would care about things like the prices of available roadside food and motel rooms as well as the truck’s operating condition. However, the manager of the firm might have different priorities. He would care mostly about the truck’s on-time performance and much less so about the food you were eating and the places you were staying. In other words, the company manager would be paying attention to the production of the firm, while ignoring transitory elements that impacted you, but did not affect the company’s bottom line.

In a sense, a similar situation occurs with regard to measures of inflation. As we’ve learned, CPI measures prices as they affect everyday household spending. Well, a core inflation index    is typically calculated by taking the CPI and excluding volatile economic variables. In this way, economists have a better sense of the underlying trends in prices that affect the cost of living.

Examples of excluded variables include energy and food prices, which can jump around from month to month because of the weather. According to an article by Kent Bernhard, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a key supply point for the nation’s gasoline was nearly knocked out. Gas prices quickly shot up across the nation, in some places up to 40 cents a gallon in one day. This was not the cause of an economic policy but rather a short-lived event until the pumps were restored in the region. In this case, the CPI that month would register the change as a cost of living event to households, but the core inflation index would remain unchanged. As a result, the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates would not be influenced. Similarly, droughts can cause world-wide spikes in food prices that, if temporary, do not affect the nation’s economic capability.

As former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke noted in 1999 about the core inflation index, “It provide(s) a better guide to monetary policy than the other indices, since it measures the more persistent underlying inflation rather than transitory influences on the price level.” Bernanke also noted that it helps communicate that every inflationary shock need not be responded to by the Federal Reserve since some price changes are transitory and not part of a structural change in the economy.

In sum, both the CPI and the core inflation index are important, but serve different audiences. The CPI helps households understand their overall cost of living from month to month, while the core inflation index is a preferred gauge from which to make important government policy changes.

Practical solutions for the substitution and the quality/new goods biases

By the early 2000s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was using alternative mathematical methods for calculating the Consumer Price Index, more complicated than just adding up the cost of a fixed basket of goods, to allow for some substitution between goods. It was also updating the basket of goods behind the CPI more frequently, so that new and improved goods could be included more rapidly. For certain products, the BLS was carrying out studies to try to measure the quality improvement. For example, with computers, an economic study can try to adjust for changes in speed, memory, screen size, and other characteristics of the product, and then calculate the change in price after these product changes are taken into account. But these adjustments are inevitably imperfect, and exactly how to make these adjustments is often a source of controversy among professional economists.

Questions & Answers

Explain the differences between aggregate demand shocks and aggregate supply shocks
Swagger Reply
what are the measures being taken to reduce inflation in LDCs
Athumam Reply
increase level of production,reduce rates of tax charged
mashauri
What is economic growth!
Doris Reply
Microeconomics can simply be refers to as the study of a unit economy while macroeconomics can be regarded as a study of economy as a whole or aggregate economy of a country.
Hamzat Reply
Full employment price stability economic growth
Hamzat
using geometry, discuss the four interrelated flows in the circular flows of income
Ahmed Reply
who is there?
SHAHRUKH Reply
Demand refers to the quantity of a commodity that one can buy supported by the willingness and the ability to buy
Noor Reply
Which of the following are assets of the Federal Reserve? a. Treasury bills held by the Federal Reserve b. cash in circulation c. Loans made by commercial banks d. the reserves of commercial banks at the Federal Reserve
Julya Reply
D
Neeha
a
Sushovan
d
Roger
what are the four functions served by money
Michele Reply
It serves as a medium of exchange
Zaharaddeen
It serves as a store of value
Zaharaddeen
It serves as a unit of account
Umar
It also serves as a standard for Differed Payment.
Umar
Acts as a measure of value.
Humphrey
acceptability
GGPS
hi
Shaxboz
hello
Md
welcome
Shaxboz
Hey, I am a new member.
Abdul
Store of value
Bokwe
Hello i want your help if there is someone online
Athumam
hello
Prem
how are you doing
Athumam
what is balance of payment deficit
Athumam
A nation or region, which is deficit in exports, and Imports more goods and services and for the payment for imports, it must be borrowed from other states or Nations. mostly, between countries.
Prem
Pls Wat ar D Factors to Consedered To Saving
IBRAHIM
savings
BENJAMIN
Yah
IBRAHIM
Yes
IBRAHIM
Hello guys how are you doing
Tantoh
I will say a balance of payment deficit is when a country import more goods,services and capital than it export.The country most borrowed from other countries to pay for it imports.
Tantoh
income
Vivek
can anyone tell me that why in the income and consumption curve the income is on x axis?
bechar Reply
why inflation in double digit is not good for economy
Obaid Reply
what is mean by zero inflation
Obaid
some time it is good but some time it is not...
bechar
the condition of that economy tell you. is it good are bad?
bechar
the definition of the law of demand
Aley Reply
law of damand states all else remains constant or what we can say is ceteris peribus,quantity demanded for a commodity extends with fall in price and vice versa. law of demand explains inverse relationship between price and qua ntity demanded
Gaurav
What is demand and supply
Antwi Reply
Demand refers to how much of that product, item, commodity, or service consumers are willing and able to purchase at a particular price. In other words, supply refers to how much the producers of a product or service are willing to produce and can provide to the market with limited amount of resou
Husna
Hello dear
habibrahman
what is gdp per capital and why it is used for?
Era Reply
gross domestic product
prince
gdp per capita is the gross domestic product per person (GDP/population) and is a better indicator of economic health and living standards than GDP alone.
Gina
thank you so much 😘
Era
please explain shift in production possibility curve
Kobby
advances in technology can cause a shift in the ppf because output can increase with use of the same amount of resources (laborers can produce more efficiently, and suppliers are willing to sell more)
Gina
but equally natural shocks ie earthquakes or war can move the ppf inward so reducing production capicity
jax
what is crowding out effect?
Sera Reply
What is SAT AND GPA
prince

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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