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North Castle Books

Getting Prices Right: The Debate Over the Consumer Price Index
Edited by: Dean Baker

Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-0221-3 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-0222-0
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USD: $74.95 USD: $30.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 200pp. Figures, tables, bibliography, index.
Publication Date: September 1997.  


Description: Compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI is used to index Social Security payments and many other federal programs, as well as to adjust tax brackets. Today, the accuracy of the CPI is being hotly debated, particularly in light of the Boskin Commission report that concluded in December 1996 that the CPI overstates inflation by 1.1%. If accepted and applied in the formulation of economic policy, the report would have major implications for balancing the federal budget. It would have a direct impact on the lives of Americans who are beneficiaries of government programs as well as on everyone who pays taxes. In this book, Dean Baker introduces and explains the significance of the debate, presents the full text of the Boskin Commission report and finally discusses in a far-reaching and insightful analysis both the Commission's research methodology and its conclusions.

Review(s): "Baker performs several important public services. His summary of the issues involved in the debate is extraordinarily clear, and the meticulous footnotes and references are a comprehensive guide to research on the CPI, the single most important piece of US economic data. Baker provides a critical evaluation of the report's findings, a much-needed antidote to its nearly universal acceptance by the media. Written in a manner accessible to both professionals and noneconomists, Baker reveals the often overlooked and questionable assumptions behind the Boskin Commission conclusion that the CPI overstates inflation. ... Highly recommended for all college and research libraries. Lower-division undergraduate and up." -- Choice

"Until Dean Baker's book appeared, discussion of the cost of living ... was depressing. There were failures within the economic profession, Congress, and the media. Baker's book, published after the Boskin Commission report on the CPI, is a major step in illuminating those failings. ..." -- Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"Part I ... reprints the Boskin Commission's report. This is a valuable public service, as the report is essential reading for anyone interested in price measurement. ... Part II ... disputes the Boskin Commission's bias estimates. ... Part III ... reprints ... commentaries on the Boskin Commission Report. ... Readers ... can learn much from this book. Baker ... succeed[s] in casting doubt on some components of The Boskin Commission's bias estimate." -- Journal of Economic Literature

"Baker does an excellent job of identifying areas of potential bias in the Boskin Commission itself. ... An excellent resource for anyone working with the CPI or the Consumer Expenditure Survey data or for anyone who is interested in this area. The index allows quick reference to a topic from a variety of perspectives. For those who wish to delve into the issue further, a very good list of readings is provided." -- The Journal of Consumer Affairs

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