Friday, December 17th, 2010

Measuring prices around the world

You don’t trust your government to provide reliable inflation data? Is the central bank tinkering with the numbers to help the president get re-elected? The number crunchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a way to keep them honest. MIT’s Billion Prices Project has constructed alternative consumer price indexes from a data-base of prices of 5 million individual items from super markets and other retailers in 70 countries.

The Argentine consumer price index says that inflation has been stuck around 11% a year since July? According to the Billion Price Project it’s running at an annual rate of nearly 21%. In the United States, too, the BPP suggests prices are rising faster than the Fed would have us believe: 2.2% a year compared to 1.1% reported by the CPI. That is good news. It suggest that growth might be faster than we think.


I thank Free Exchange for the pointer.


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