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Session 2: Cost of Living and Inflation Measurement in Lebanon. Inaugural Conference Upgrading Lebanon’s Economic Analytical Capacity Lebanese Economic Association - International Development Research Centre. Rima Turk-Ariss, Ph.D. Board Member,.

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session 2 cost of living and inflation measurement in lebanon

Session 2: Cost of Living and Inflation Measurement in Lebanon

Inaugural Conference

Upgrading Lebanon’s Economic Analytical Capacity

Lebanese Economic Association - International Development Research Centre

Rima Turk-Ariss, Ph.D.

Board Member,

September 23, 2010, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Beirut

outline
Outline

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

PART ONE:Background on Inflation

PART TWO:Inflation in Lebanon

PART THREE: Inflation Working Group

part one background on inflation
PART ONE:BACKGROUND ON INFLATION

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

what is inflation
What is inflation?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

A rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.

 Each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services.

decay in the purchasing power of individuals.

why do prices rise
Why do Prices Rise?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

High inflation rates could be caused by an excessive growth in the money supply.

Other causes are fluctuations in demand of goods and service and/or changes in available supplies of a product (scarcity).

However, long sustained periods of inflation generally result from the money supply growing faster than the economy.

how does inflation affect us
How Does Inflation Affect Us?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

  • Implicit tax on income:
    • Lowers the value of money and income (reduces real wages)
    • Diminishes value of savings
  • Affects fixed pension funds
  • Redistributes wealth, increasing the gap between rich and poor
  • Affects government revenues and expenses, leaking into the financial budget and fiscal deficit
  • Reduces real GDP growth
slide7

How Does Inflation Affect Us?

  • High inflation rates hurt the economy, but…
  • A low rate of inflation is also generally favored:
    • Low inflation reduces the severity of economic recessions
  • The task of keeping the rate of inflation low and stable is usually given to the monetary authority

 Rule Versus discretionary policy debate:

    • Monetarists favor price stability and inflation targeting by the central bank (objective of most central banks up till the global financial crisis) whereas Keynesians favor interventionist policy (e.g recent stimulus packages).

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

how do we measure inflation
How do we measure inflation?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

  • Price indexes are designed to track inflation by measuring changes in price level or cost of living at a particular date.
    • Indexation is used as a reference in order to make policy as well as firm decisions.
  • A price index is used to aggregate detailed information on prices and quantities into scalar measures of their levels or their growth.
    • CPI: a measure of the average price paid by consumers for a basket of consumer goods and services,
    • Other examples include PPI, Real Estate Price Index, Export/Import price index, GDP deflator.
part two inflation in lebanon
PART TWO:INFLATION IN LEBANON

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

inflation measures in lebanon
Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

Four main entities produce inflation measures for Lebanon:

  • The Central Administration of Statistics (CAS).
  • The Ministry of Economy and Trade (MoET)
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Beirut (CCIB)
  • Consultation & Research Institute
inflation measures in lebanon1
Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

  • The Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) is the principal national institution responsible for measuring inflation in Lebanon.
  • CAS started tracking the price of consumer goods since December 1998.
    • It published a quarterly CPI since 1999 with the technical assistance of IMF.
    • In 2007, the CPI weights were updated using the 2004 Household Budget Survey. A new CPI began to be monthly issued as of March 2008.
inflation measures in lebanon2
CAS compiles the monthly prices of 50,000 goods at 2,000 point of sales, grouping them into 12 time series.

The weights used by CAS show the average household’s expenditures on goods and services, not taking into account the household’s size, income and social status.

Weights do not represent at all the expenditures of a typical average household in Lebanon.

Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

inflation measures in lebanon3
The CAS has started an initiative as of May 2008 to compile its data according to internationally accepted methods.

The data coverage has been expanded to include the whole country and not just Beirut and its suburbs.

An attempt has been made to impute housing rents into the CPI.

CAS also has plans to produce a PPI

Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

inflation measures in lebanon4
Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

  • In 2000, the MoET started issuing a consumer price index based on around 650 items from various supermarkets nationwide.
    • MOET index suffers from weighting that dates back to 1997, supermarket misreporting, focusing on F&B mostly.
  • In the Private sector:
    • Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Beirut (CCIB) started a CPI in 1998, but discontinued it later.
    • Consultations and Research Institute has published a monthly CPI since 1978.
inflation measures in lebanon5
Inflation measures in Lebanon

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

  • IMF publishes figures on inflation in Lebanon based mainly on figures that are estimated by the Central bank and IMF employees, and not using CAS or MOET figures.
  • How do locally produced inflation measures correlate with the IMF figures?
    • We divide our analysis in pre and post 2007, following the CAS change in inflation measurement
slide16

Annual Inflation Rate: 2004-2006

Source: Adapted from Dr. Jad Chaaban, "Doing the Sums: A new approach to calculating inflation in Lebanon", Lebanon Opportunities, March 2008

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

slide17

Cumulative Annual Inflation: 2004-2006

Source: Adapted from Jad Chaaban, "Doing the Sums: A new approach to calculating inflation in Lebanon", Lebanon Opportunities, March 2008.

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

slide18

Annual Inflation Rates: Post-2007

Source: Author’s calculations from CRI, CAS, & IMF data.

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

slide19

Monthly Inflation Rates: Post-2007

Source: Author’s calculations from CRI & CAS data.

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

slide20

Weights Applied

Source: Thibault CRUZET, Bilan de l’inflation au Liban au 1er semestre 2009, Ambassade de France.

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

what do all these figures tell us
What Do All These Figures Tell Us?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

There is evidence to suggest that current measures of inflation are conflicting.

Hence the need to revise national price data.

Why? Price shocks put the Lebanese economy in a vulnerable position, and as such any policies to tackle these price fluctuations must first be based on reliable nationwide data.

part three inflation working group
PART THREE:INFLATION WORKING GROUP

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

project broad objective
Project Broad Objective

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

Build on recent advances on inflation measurement in Lebanon to construct a more comprehensive and robust inflation indicator for Lebanon.

  • Price Monitoring and Revision of Data

Time Horizon: 2 years.

specific objectives
SpecificObjectives

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

1) Undertake a critical revision of available price information in Lebanon, including public, private and international sources of information.

2) Establish new price statistics from available data, when feasible, such as export-import price indexes, real estate price indexes, and producer price indexes.

3) Develop a framework for price statistics to explain the links between various price indexes and between price indexes and other relevant economic statistics.

price monitoring working group mechanics
Price Monitoring Working Group Mechanics

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

working group composition
Working Group Composition

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

The working group will comprise 6 members from the following organizations (mid and senior level civil servants) distributed as follows:

- CAS: 2 persons

- MoET: 1 person

- MoF: 1 person

- BdL: 2 persons

working group external linkages
Working Group External Linkages
  • The Working Group will be open to all interested organizations, both public and private, in addition to academia and international organizations, inviting them to participate in its work program.
  • The Working Group activities are expected to receive wider exposure through discussion at relevant outreach meetings and regular communication with international experts and groups using electronic media such as the Internet.

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

working group activities
Working Group Activities
  • Attend 3 courses, each for duration of 5 days:
    • Statistical techniques for decision making
    • Analytical writing skills for reports and public policy briefs
    • Public economics principles and methodology.
  • Advance on the production of outputs during 5 meetings in 2-day workshops each.
  • Participate in 2 project retreats (each for 2 days), and in 3 public consultations and outreach events (each for 1 day).

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

working group expected output
Working Group Expected Output

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010

1) Analytical report on inflation measurement in Lebanon

  • Theory of indexes
  • Issues in inflation index construction
  • Available price statistics in Lebanon
  • Proposal for new price indexes

2) A National Price Monthly Monitoring Newsletter:

  • Information about the various price indexes used
  • Trends in the evolution of prices
  • Expected impacts of price movements on other economic indicators in Lebanon
slide30

Your thoughts?

LEA-IDRC Inaugural Conference, Crown Plaza, Beirut, September 23, 2010