Inflation, Interest, and Relative Prices

Eugene F. Fama

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637

G. William Schwert

University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627
and National Bureau of Economic Research

Journal of Business, 52 (April 1979) 183-209

In setting interest rates on treasury bills, the market appears to respond only to the common part of the expected inflation rates of different goods. However, there are seasonals in expected inflation rates which are different for different goods. We suggest that these differential seasonals reflect the real costs of providing different goods to the market at different times of the year and hence are properly ignored by the market in setting interest rates. Finally, there is increasing similarity in the movement of the unexpected inflation rates of different goods for longer measurement intervals. In part, we interpret this as the result of gradual reallocation of resources in response to surprise shifts in supply or demand conditions. The tests use data for the U.S. Consumer Price Index and its major sub-components from 1953 to 1977.

Key words: Inflation, Interest rates, Relative Prices

JEL Classifications: E31
Cited 30 times in the SSCI and SCOPUS through 2020
© Copyright 1979, University of Chicago
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