Inflation Expectations: Firm-Level Experiments

Last registered on January 24, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Inflation Expectations: Firm-Level Experiments
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008831
Initial registration date
January 23, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 24, 2022, 9:32 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Boston College

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Mannheim
PI Affiliation
Goethe University Frankfurt
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-01-26
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In this project, we aim to provide a comprehensive causal assessment of the role of four theoretically-motivated forces that might contribute to the formation of firms' inflation expectations (the importance of firms’ inflation expectations has been highlighted for other items, such as sales prospects, also in recent work by Bachmann, Carstensesn, Lautenbacher and Schneider 2020). We will assess the potential role of each of these four channels as well as their relative importance through the design of an information-provision survey experiment. The four channels are suppliers' pricing strategies, customers' inflation expectations, competitors' inflation expectations, and workers' inflation expectations. Suppliers' pricing strategies might matter to firm as they influence firms' own inflation expectations for intermediate goods they use in their production activities. Customers' inflation expectations, especially for firms that engage with end-consumers, matter in that firms' pricing strategies might be more or less aggressive based on whether consumers expect higher prices to begin with or not, and hence react differently to the same price increase. Competitors' and workers' inflation expectations might change firms' expected competitive pressure and expected cost of operations going forward, which are crucial inputs to production.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Adam, Klaus et al. 2022. "Inflation Expectations: Firm-Level Experiments." AEA RCT Registry. January 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8831
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We aim at a causal inference of firms’ inflation expectations through a survey experiment. Specifically, we wish to test three possible channels that may affect firms’ inflation expectations. The first is the cost channel. This includes the cost of labour, which is likely to raise in the post-pandemic scenario also due to reduced labour supply, and the ensuing raise in unions' power. On reverse instead automation may help firms reduce the cost of labour, hence tame inflation. The second is linked to the role of competitors, as firms have more flexibility in raising prices in less competitive environments. In turn firms themselves form their inflation expectations based on what their expectations of competitors' pricing strategies. The third is the role of consumers’ demand: firms setting prices, do so by taking demand elasticity as given. Most often they refrain from raising prices when they fear consumers’ antagonism.
Intervention Start Date
2022-02-01
Intervention End Date
2022-07-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Firm's 12-month-ahead general inflation numerical expectations
Firm's expectations of price adjustments in the 1, 3, 6, and 12 months following the interview
Firm's qualitative beliefs about whether competitors, customers, unions' expectations are relevant to price setting decisions
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Firm's 12-month-ahead general inflation numerical expectations: they will be constructed by asking subjects for a numerical point estimate for general inflation in their country (Italy) over the 12 months after the date of the interview

Firm's expectations of price adjustments in the 1, 3, 6, and 12 months following the intervention: they will be asked by asking subjects to report the expected price level for their main product/line of products 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the interview

Firm's qualitative beliefs about whether competitors, customers, unions' expectations are relevant to price setting decisions: they will be constructed by asking subjects, for each of the three dimensions, to rank their important in their firms' price-setting decisions on a Likert scale from 0 to 5.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The trial is an experimental survey of a representative set of Italian firms that consists of three parts. The design only includes one level of information treatment with 5 experimental arms (control group plus four treatment arms). Firms will be randomly allocated to one of the 5 experimental arms before starting the experiment through a computerized random number generator. Interviews will be conducted via phone by professional interviewers.

In the first part of the experiment, we elicit information about the price setting strategies of the respondent's firm, their production and investment activities, as well as priors about macroeconomic variables, such as general inflation, oil prices, and other energy prices.

The second part consists of experimental information treatments. Each of 5 random groups of respondents will be read a short paragraph (3 lines) indicating the recent increases and expected increases of the prices of elements that extant economic theory indicates as non-mutually exclusive potential determinants of price setting behavior: energy prices, consumer prices, competitors' prices, and wages (labor prices). The fifth group (control group) will be read a similar-length paragraph about the limited liability of corporations.

The third part of the experiment consists on eliciting firms' posteriors about macroeconomic variables, expectations about their firms' products expected prices at various horizons, and opinions about the importance of each of the channels for which the experimental stage provides information.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done through a random number generator by a computer on a list of representative Italian firms based on which professional interviewers will make phone calls.
Randomization Unit
The level of randomization is the firm.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2500 firms
Sample size: planned number of observations
2500 firms
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 firms for each treatment arm (control group plus four information-treatment arms)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committe at Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt
IRB Approval Date
2021-10-25
IRB Approval Number
N/A