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The Formation of Firms' Inflation Expectations: A Survey Data Analysis


November 22, 2019
Haruhiko Inatsugu*1
Tomiyuki Kitamura*2
Taichi Matsuda*3


In this paper, using both semi-aggregate and firm-level survey data of the inflation expectations of Japanese firms, we examine the empirical validity of three hypotheses on the formation of inflation expectations: the full-information rational expectations (FIRE), noisy information, and sticky information hypotheses. Our main findings are as follows. First, the results of our panel VAR analysis using semi-aggregate data show that, while firms' inflation expectations have a forward-looking aspect consistent with FIRE, they are not fully consistent with FIRE in that they tend to incorporate the changes in the actual inflation rate only gradually. Second, the forecast errors of semi-aggregate inflation expectations correlate with the past revisions of expectations, implying that FIRE does not hold for all firms. Third, the results of firm-level dynamic panel regressions show that firms' inflation expectations depend to a great extent on their past expectations, which is consistent with both the noisy information and sticky information hypotheses. The regression results also show that the short-term expectations of small firms are influenced by their perception of their own business conditions, which is consistent with the noisy information hypothesis, especially the rational inattention variant. These findings suggest that firms in Japan form their inflation expectations in a complex manner that cannot be described by a single theory.

JEL Classification
D84; E31; E52

Firms' inflation expectations; Survey data; FIRE; Noisy information; Sticky information

The authors are grateful to the staff at the Bank of Japan, especially Kouki Inamura, Jouchi Nakajima, Kenji Nishizaki, Tatsushi Okuda, and Masaki Tanaka, for helpful comments and discussions. All remaining errors are our own. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Bank of Japan.

  1. *1Monetary Affairs Department, Bank of Japan
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  2. *2Monetary Affairs Department, Bank of Japan
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  3. *3Monetary Affairs Department, Bank of Japan
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