Quantifying the Risk of Deflation


  • The views expressed in this paper are our own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Central Bank (ECB) or its staff. We thank the editor, an anonymous referee, Robert Barsky, Vítor Gaspar, Jesús Gonzalo, Chris House, Atsushi Inoue, Emre Ozdenorem, and Harald Uhlig for helpful comments.


We propose formal and quantitative measures of the risk that future inflation will be excessively high or low relative to the range preferred by a private sector agent. Unlike alternative measures of risk, our measures are designed to make explicit the dependence of risk measures on the private sector agent's preferences with respect to inflation. We illustrate our methodology by estimating the risks of deflation for the United States, Germany, and Japan for horizons of up to 2 years. The question of how large these risks are has been subject to considerable public debate. We find that, as of September 2002 when this question first arose, there was no evidence of substantial deflation risks for the United States and for Germany, contrary to some conjectures at the time. In contrast, there was evidence of substantial deflation risks in Japan.