Ben Bernanke vs. Janet Yellen: Exploring the (a)symmetry of individual and aggregate inflation expectations

Nikola Mirkov and Andreas Steinhauer



JEL classification
C42, E31

inflation expectations, subjective probability distributions


We conducted a simple, anonymous survey at the beginning of 2014, asking around 200 economists worldwide to reveal their inflation expectations, conditional on either Ben Bernanke or Janet Yellen being the chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. We use the change in the Fed's leadership to focus attention on the difference in conditional expectations, while we are interested in the distribution of those expectations. The outcome of the survey shows that a significant share of respondents revealed asymmetric inflation expectations and that the deviation from symmetry is sizeable. Nonetheless, individual asymmetry in forecasts appears to be irrelevant for the aggregate distribution, as the number of respondents who factor in excess inflation broadly matches the number of those who gave more weight to disinflationary outcomes. The aggregate distribution we obtain is largely comparable to the outcome of the Survey of Professional Forecasters for the first quarter of 2014.