While the CPI is the most commonly used measure to track inflation, it is not fully consistent with a true cost-of-living index (COLI). Although the official treatment of durable goods and housing in the CPI represents an acceptable compromise in the current environment of low and stable inflation, Sabourin and Duguay suggest that it would be worthwhile to consider treating housing and durables in the same way and bringing the actual CPI closer to a COLI. This could be accomplished by employing an enhanced user-cost approach to calculate the imputed cost of the services provided by the use of durable goods or housing.
This paper evaluates the usefulness of various measures of core inflation for the conduct of monetary policy. Traditional exclusion-based measures of core inflation are found to perform relatively poorly across a range of evaluation criteria, in part due to their inability to filter unanticipated transitory shocks.
In this paper, the authors propose a measure of underlying inflation for Canada obtained from estimating a monthly factor model on individual components of the CPI. This measure, labelled the common component of CPI, has intuitive appeal and a number of interesting features.
The consumer price index (CPI) is the most commonly used measure to track changes in the overall level of prices. Since it departs from a true cost-of-living index, the CPI is subject to four types of measurement bias—commodity substitution, outlet substitution, new goods and quality adjustment. The author updates previous Bank of Canada estimates of measurement bias in the Canadian CPI by examining these four sources of potential bias. He finds the total measurement bias over the 2005–11 period to be about 0.5 percentage point per year, consistent with the Bank’s earlier findings. Slightly more than half of this bias is caused by the fixed nature of the CPI basket of goods and services.
For several decades, the prices of services have been rising more rapidly than the prices of goods in Canada and the other major industrialized countries. In 2002, this gap between the growth rates of these two components of the consumer price index (CPI) widened considerably, leading researchers to ask if this was the beginning of a trend. Analysis reveals, however, that the gap is based on short-term dynamics and that it appears to be independent of the trend in the development of the overall price level. Evidence also shows that the gap is eventually reabsorbed. The authors examine a number of potential causes for the prices of services to rise faster than those of goods. These include the more rapid pace of productivity growth in the goods sector, the greater openness of goods to foreign trade, and stronger growth in the demand for services.