Authors: Müller, Henrik
Schmidt, Tobias
Rieger, Jonas
Hufnagel, Lena Maria
Hornig, Nico
Title: A German Inflation Narrative
Other Titles: How the Media frame Price Dynamics: results from a RollingLDA analysis
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: In this paper, we present a new indicator to measure the media coverage of inflation. Our Inflation Perception Indicator (IPI) for Germany is based on a corpus of three million articles published by broadsheet newspapers between January 2001 and February 2022. It is designed to detect thematic trends, thereby providing new insights into the dynamics of inflation perception over time. These results may prove particularly valuable at the current juncture, where massive uncertainty prevails due to geopolitical conflicts and the pandemic-related supply-chain jitters. Economists inspired by Shiller (2017; 2020) have called for analyses of economic narratives to complement econometric analyses. The IPI operationalizes such an approach by isolating inflation narratives circulating in the media. Methodically, the IPI makes use of RollingLDA (Rieger et al. 2021), a dynamic topic modeling approach refining the rather static original LDA (Blei et al. 2003) to allow for changes in the model’s structure over time. By modeling the process of collective memory, where experiences of the past are partly overwritten and altered by new ones and partly sink into oblivion, RollingLDA is a potent tool to capture the evolution of economic narratives as social phenomena. In addition, it is suitable to produce stable time-series, to the effect that the IPI can be updated frequently. Our initial results show a narrative landscape in turmoil. Never in the past two decades has there been such a broad shift in inflation perception, and therefore, possibly, in inflation expectations. Also, second-round effects, such as significant wage demands, that have not played a major role in Germany for a long time, seem to be in the making. Towards the end of the time horizon, raw material prices are high on the agenda, too, triggered by the Russian war against Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions against the aggressor. We would like to encourage researchers to use our data and are happy to share it on request.
Subject Headings: inflation
expectations
narratives
latent Dirichlet allocation
Covid-19
text mining
computational methods
behavioral economics
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/40775
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-22632
Issue Date: 2022-03
Appears in Collections:DoCMA Working Papers

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