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John O'Trakoun

Senior Policy Economist

John O'Trakoun is a senior policy economist in the Research Department. Before joining the Richmond Fed in September 2020, O'Trakoun was a senior economist at Ford Motor Company, where he analyzed and forecasted economic trends and their impact on the automotive industry. Previously, he was a senior economist in international affairs and trade at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He also served as a teaching fellow in economics at Boston College, where he earned his doctorate and masters degree.

  • Academic Publications
    Business Economics, Vol. 58, December 2023: 205-223

    John O'Trakoun

    Business Economics, Vol. 57, 2022: 95–110

    John O'Trakoun

    Business Economics, Vol. 53, January 2018: 14-24

    John O'Trakoun

    The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Vol. 26, 2017: 552-565

    John O'Trakoun

    International Finance, Vol. 18, Winter 2015: 299-320

    John O'Trakoun

  • Bank Publications
    Economic Brief, September 2022, No. 22-38

    The relationship between the producer price index and consumer price indexes has not always been clear.

    John O'Trakoun and David Ramachandran

    Economic Brief, August 2022, No. 22-31

    Persistence in inflation depends on the time period studied.

    Conner Mulloy, John O'Trakoun and Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte

    Economic Brief, October 2021, No. 21-33

    Since 1980, survey forecasts have been modestly and consistently higher on average than the forecasts derived from a signal extraction model.

    John Mullin, John O'Trakoun and Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte

  • Working Papers
    November 2023, No. 23-10

    John O'Trakoun introduces the "trimmed persistence PCE," a new measure of core inflation in which component prices are weighted according to the time-varying persistence of their price changes.

    John O'Trakoun

  • Blog Posts
    June 18, 2024

    The stock market is way up, and households know it. A consumption-supporting wealth effect, an overvalued stock market, and expecting strong future output growth are three possible causes.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 21, 2024

    An increase in multifamily housing supply could be contributing to a softening in rents, but historical patterns suggest an upward pressure on rent growth could be in store.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 14, 2024

    Are price increases being experienced across many categories, or is inflation mostly driven by a few stubborn categories? The PCE price index seems to suggest pricing pressure remains broad.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 7, 2024

    Anxiety about possible job loss appears to be associated with actual changes in worker behavior, lowering the frequency of job switching in the economy.

    John O'Trakoun

    April 16, 2024

    In this week's post, we rank districts according to how similar they are to the overall U.S. in terms of the industry composition of their GDP.

    John O'Trakoun

    April 2, 2024

    There's a diverging trend in the recovering housing market. While new single-family housing construction is increasing, multi-family housing unit construction is on the decline.

    John O'Trakoun

    March 26, 2024

    Findings from UM's Survey of Consumers suggest that being affiliated with the political party in power makes consumers more engaged and, in turn, more informed about the state of the economy.

    John O'Trakoun

    March 5, 2024

    Small business performance indicators suggest that consumer demand is resilient and price pressures remain high despite inflation trending down. Measures like these can offer insights into the overall economy's state.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 27, 2024

    Since 2021, there has been a large increase in both the size of the population with disabilities and the disabled labor force participation rate. Expansion of remote work opportunities seems to have contributed to this growth.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 20, 2024

    The increasing share of foreign-born immigrant workers is an important influence on today's labor market landscape. The outlook is highly uncertain if this trend will continue.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 13, 2024

    Due to an increase in labor productivity, strong wage growth is coexisting with encouraging signs of inflation in recent readings. However, productivity growth has historically shown to be volatile.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 6, 2024

    A significant gap has emerged between the growth rate of rent CPI and new renters. An increase in tenant lease renewal and young adults living at home could be related.

    John O'Trakoun

    January 16, 2024

    Data from the monthly Construction Spending Report point to a sustained and robust pace of real private construction spending toward the end of 2023.

    John O'Trakoun

    January 9, 2024

    Labor force participation among older workers is on the rise. Concerns about the sustainability of their finances may explain this happening.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 28, 2023

    The Michigan Consumer Sentiment index fell to 61.3 in November versus 63.8 in October, seemingly due to high price concerns.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 14, 2023

    This post provides a look at where retail inventory-to-sales ratios may hint at discounts for price-conscious consumers this holiday season.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 7, 2023

    Is it possible durable goods spending will settle above the pre-pandemic trend line? If so, what might this consumption shift mean for the aggregate economy?

    John O'Trakoun

    October 17, 2023

    How does the latest monthly data affect progress versus the Fed's long-run 2 percent average inflation target?

    John O'Trakoun

    October 10, 2023

    Real disposable personal income growth has been negative for the past three months following 11 consecutive months of gains.

    John O'Trakoun

    October 3, 2023

    In this week's post, we explore alternative series that might have been used to measure the strength of consumer demand in the absence of official measures of personal consumption expenditure (PCE).

    John O'Trakoun

    September 26, 2023

    In this week's post, we look at the impact of unions on wage gains for workers and what trends suggest for the road ahead.

    John O'Trakoun

    September 5, 2023

    Out of the many components that make up the PPI, one particularly relevant item from the perspective of shoppers may be the PPI's trade indexes.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 15, 2023

    In our dynamic economy, new businesses are opened, and older businesses shut down continually over time. How does the BLS account for this churn when reporting jobs growth?

    John O'Trakoun

    August 8, 2023

    As the economy continues to normalize from the shock of the pandemic, what changes have we seen in terms of mothers' labor force participation?

    Erin Henry and John O'Trakoun

    August 1, 2023

    How do the Fed's interest rate hikes affect bank lending standards? One way to find out is to directly ask banks whether they've tightened lending standards to borrowers.

    John O'Trakoun

    July 11, 2023

    While the level of inflation-adjusted household spending remains high, recent monthly growth rates are no longer as buoyant as before.

    John O'Trakoun

    June 27, 2023

    Household savings have been a tailwind to spending and inflation, but is that tailwind finally dissipating?

    John O'Trakoun

    June 20, 2023

    In this week's post, we look at the data to see which businesses are driving this picture of lean inventories relative to sales.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 30, 2023

    April's advance monthly retail sales report showed consumer demand expanding to kick off the second quarter of 2023. Why do some economists and economy-watchers emphasize these core retail sales?

    John O'Trakoun

    May 16, 2023

    While auto sales have been trending up over the past several months, we'll look into a couple of reasons why the future may not be so bright.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 09, 2023

    Recent inflation readings continue to come in below their COVID-19 era highs, but has the persistence of inflation also come down?

    John O'Trakoun

    April 18, 2023

    Our preliminary findings suggest that, across industries, the decline in job openings may be more related to hiring challenges rather than quit rates.

    John O'Trakoun

    April 11, 2023

    Smaller businesses' demand for workers has made up a considerable part of the surge in job openings observed over the past two years. But some data suggest that surge is beginning to wane.

    John O'Trakoun

    April 04, 2023

    Indexes of market rents are currently showing a significant slowing versus their peaks in 2022, but the rent and owners' equivalent rent (OER) components of inflation continue to rise.

    John O'Trakoun

    March 28, 2023

    Will strong hiring continue in the leisure and hospitality industry?

    John O'Trakoun

    March 7, 2023

    This post explores what impact the personal savings rate could have on households and their spending.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 28, 2023

    How can a plethora of individual price changes in the economy be combined into a single number that represents the overall change in the cost of living? The BLS accomplishes this with the CPI.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 14, 2023

    Some workers may continue to see larger than normal pay increases as wage differentials across sectors revert to their pre-pandemic norms. These increases, however, aren't distributed evenly across sectors.

    Julian Kikuchi and John O'Trakoun

    February 07, 2023

    Are households cutting back on spending, and if so, where?

    John O'Trakoun

    January 17, 2023

    Debt is bouncing back as consumers borrow more to pay today's higher prices. So, how has consumer debt trended in recent months?

    John O'Trakoun

    January 10, 2023

    For our first post in 2023, we pick up right where we left off: discussing inflation

    John O'Trakoun

    December 6, 2022

    For the month of December, Macro Minute will be on hiatus. We'll resume our normal programming in January 2023.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 22, 2022

    This year, inflation will probably feature in some of conversations over Thanksgiving dinner. To prepare you for this onslaught, this post will take stock of how inflation has gobbled up part of the holiday budget.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 15, 2022

    How related are wages and prices, and does the current environment mean such a relationship has changed?

    John O'Trakoun and Brennan Merone

    October 18, 2022

    As central banks around the world tighten their monetary policies, the U.S. dollar has appreciated significantly compared to other currencies.

    John O'Trakoun

    October 4, 2022

    Declining gasoline prices have contributed to an easing of inflation and lower inflation expectations, working in tandem with the FOMC's efforts to bring price levels down. But how hard is monetary policy tapping on the brakes of the economy?

    John O'Trakoun

    September 27, 2022

    For homebuyers who are still in the market despite higher prices and borrowing rates, their options may be limited as homebuilders focus on clearing backlogs rather than starting new construction.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 16, 2022

    Examining how nominal income and spending behaved during the months surrounding past peaks in inflation may yield insights into the current bout of high inflation.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 9, 2022

    The elevated number of job openings in recent months have been a very stark signal of labor market tightness. But some signs may be pointing to that tightness starting to ease.

    Brennan Merone and John O'Trakoun

    August 2, 2022

    While several indicators have pointed to a recent slowdown in economic activity, one that uses unemployment rates to gauge recession probabilities may offer new insights.

    John O'Trakoun

    July 12, 2022

    While some measures of inflation show modest signs of improvement, trimmed mean inflation tells another story.

    John O'Trakoun

    July 5, 2022

    Recent JOLTS data on job openings, hires and separations may shed some light on establishment size and the challenges of snagging new employees.

    John O'Trakoun

    June 28, 2022

    The impact of the recent rise in prices on households and how people perceive future price increases may vary according to income, according to recent research.

    Aubrey George and John O'Trakoun

    May 31, 2022

    For decades, economists have been looking for leading indicators that can signal the future direction of the overall economy. In today's post, we look at a few of these indicators and what they suggest for growth going forward.

    John O'Trakoun

    May 24, 2022

    Since last summer, rising home prices have threatened to push up rent prices, adding pressure to overall inflation. How have actual rents fared and what do the most recent numbers imply for rent inflation going forward?

    John O'Trakoun

    May 17, 2022

    Recent reports revealed strong growth in hiring and wages for April. But is that growth enough to keep up with inflation?

    John O'Trakoun

    May 10, 2022

    The recent fall in real GDP has sparked considerable concern, but an alternative measure provides hope that the economy didn't fare as poorly as the GDP data suggest.

    John O'Trakoun

    April 12, 2022

    A recent analysis shows significantly higher inflation in rural areas versus urban areas, using data from nine broad census divisions. But does this difference in price levels hold true drilling down to the state level?

    Aubrey George and John O'Trakoun

    April 5, 2022

    Purchases of durable goods have been moderating after experiencing a surge during the pandemic. But is this due to falling demand or constrained supplies?

    John O'Trakoun

    March 29, 2022

    While the unemployment rate has yet to fall to its pre-pandemic level, another measure of labor market tightness has reached levels not seen since the 1970s — job openings per unemployed person.

    John O'Trakoun

    March 22, 2022

    Crude oil prices spiked following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, adding to the pricing pressures that were already affecting energy markets. Filling any supply gaps won't be easy.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 22, 2022

    Despite improvements in the unemployment rate and labor force participation, one measure indicates continued hiring challenges in the private sector: the hires-per-job opening ratio.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 15, 2022

    While consumers haven't been the best forecasters of the future rate of inflation, their expectations may have additional weight now because more people are paying attention to price levels.

    John O'Trakoun

    February 8, 2022

    There are a lot more people who say they aren't working due to COVID-19, according to a recent survey. However, other data indicates that most of those workers remain in the labor force.

    Conner Mulloy and John O'Trakoun

    February 1, 2022

    The New York Fed recently combined a variety of indicators into a single measure of global supply chain pressure. Plotting this index against the Richmond Fed's "prices paid" measurements from its business activity surveys can provide a window into the effects of supply disruptions on the Fifth Federal Reserve District.

    John O'Trakoun

    January 11, 2022

    While nonfarm payrolls increased only modestly in December, both monthly and high-frequency data on job openings bode well for upcoming employment reports.

    John O'Trakoun

    January 4, 2022

    A model takes a fresh look at the relationship between producer prices and consumer prices and can be used to make a simple forecast of inflation for 2022.

    John O'Trakoun

    December 28, 2021

    The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant poses risks to next year's economic outlook, especially if a spike in cases leads to supply disruptions in China and higher prices for Chinese imports.

    John O'Trakoun

    December 21, 2021

    Despite an impressive drop in the unemployment rate in November 2021, looking at the breakdown of the unemployed shows that the labor market is not back to normal.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 30, 2021

    Americans have spent less and saved more during most of the COVID-19 pandemic. What will happen to these accumulated savings is an open question.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 16, 2021

    Doing a deep dive into inventory-to-sales ratios can yield insights into supply chain issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    John O'Trakoun

    November 9, 2021

    In the post-COVID-19 labor market, there is still an inverse relationship between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate, expressed as the Beveridge curve. But it takes a lot more openings to get to the same level of unemployment. This shift suggests a high degree of labor market mismatch.

    John O'Trakoun

    October 19, 2021

    Average hourly earnings continue to grow strongly. With inflation running high, however, real wage growth has been more muted. Inflation has even outpaced wage growth in a few sectors.

    John O'Trakoun

    October 12, 2021

    Household savings have been elevated since the start of the pandemic, especially among high-income households. This is expected to fuel the seasonal burst of demand ahead of the holidays.

    John O'Trakoun

    October 5, 2021

    Recent data from the Institute for Supply Management and other sources offer early indications of whether and how much supply chain disruptions have eased.

    John O'Trakoun

    September 28, 2021

    How consumers respond to the ongoing Delta variant outbreak has been a key question facing the economy. Fortunately, consumer spending is holding up better than sentiment surveys would have suggested.

    John O'Trakoun

    September 7, 2021

    There could be multiple explanations for why more workers are staying on the sidelines compared to the pre-COVID-19 days. One reason could be that some people have reconsidered the costs and benefits of working.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 31, 2021

    The housing market has boomed during the pandemic, but data over the past few months have been more mixed. Is this bumpiness the result of weaker demand or lower supply?

    John O'Trakoun

    August 17, 2021

    Household spending fell sharply, especially on services, during the early days of the pandemic. That story is expected to change significantly as the recovery continues.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 10, 2021

    The two main employment surveys can present differing views of the health of the labor market in any given month, adding to the challenges of determining how far the economy has recovered from last year's severe downturn.

    John O'Trakoun

    August 3, 2021

    Employers are reporting they are unable to find workers. But is every industry experiencing the same difficulties, and are the industries having more trouble raising wages in response?

    John O'Trakoun

    July 13, 2021

    The recent acceleration in the prices people pay for housing might have more lasting implications for the path of core inflation ahead.

    John O'Trakoun

    July 6, 2021

    Policymakers have been using the trimmed mean PCE inflation rate to get a better sense of the overall direction of prices in the long term. But does using this metric risk missing anything that short-term price hikes might be telling us?

    John O'Trakoun