Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alternative Inflation Index

The fed's quantitative easing and the ever growing federal debt have caused many to worry about the possibility of higher inflation. Some of those concerned individuals, who tend to have a more conspiratorial outlook, also believe that the government's Consumer Price Index numbers are purposely being kept low in order to avert attention the true inflation rate.

Whatever your thoughts on the matter are, one interesting way of evaluating the government numbers is with M.I.T.'s BPP Index. The BPP(Billion Price Project) is a real time inflation index developed by M.I.T. economist Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobon. The system uses software to scan the Internet for price information on various products, which it uses to calculate the index. Currently you can look up info for Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, USA, & Venezuela.

The system does have its limitations. For example, the price of services are not well represented on websites and thus the index is no doubt under weighted in this area. Even so, as far as the U.S. is concerned, the BPP has closely matched the CPI(though over the last 6 months the BPP is about 1% higher than the CPI). In contrast, if you look at Argentina's numbers you see currently a difference of over 10%. Looks like some major government fudging going on there. Anyway, check it out here.

No comments:

Post a Comment