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Menu costs and Markov inflation: A theoretical revision with new evidence

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  • Ahlin, Christian
  • Shintani, Mototsugu

Abstract

We revisit a foundational theoretical paper in the menu cost literature, Sheshinski and Weiss (1983), one of the few to treat stochastic inflation with persistent deviations from trend. In contrast to the original finding, we find that optimal pricing in this environment entails using different (s,S) bands in high-inflation and low-inflation states of the world. The low-inflation band is strictly contained within the high-inflation band. This revised solution has very different implications from the original one. Firms are generally risk-loving, not risk-averse, with respect to inflation. An increase in the variance of inflation increases price dispersion when inflation is high and decreases price dispersion when inflation is low. On an aggregate level, this optimal pricing would lead to bunching of prices and non-neutrality of money in the setting of Caplin and Spulber (1987). To test the main finding, we construct an establishment-level dataset from the months surrounding Mexico's Tequila crisis, in 1995. In the high-inflation state, price increases are larger and establishments allow their prices to vary more widely around their respective long-run mean relative prices. Cross-establishment price dispersion is lower, but this result seems due to decreased establishment heterogeneity rather than narrower (s,S) bands. Overall, the evidence suggests that establishments employ wider (s,S) bands in the high-inflation state.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 54 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 753-784

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:54:y:2007:i:3:p:753-784

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2007. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 171-199.
  2. Almeida, Heitor & Bonomo, Marco, 2002. "Optimal state-dependent rules, credibility, and inflation inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1317-1336, October.
  3. Leif Danziger, 1998. "A Dynamic Economy with Costly Price Adjustment," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 83, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  4. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2008. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 863-904, August.
  5. Benjamin Eden, 2001. "Inflation and Price Adjustment: An Analysis of Microdata," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 607-636, July.
  6. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  7. Etienne Gagnon, 2007. "Price setting during low and high inflation: evidence from Mexico," International Finance Discussion Papers 896, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Christopher J. Erceg & Andrew T. Levin, 2001. "Imperfect credibility and inflation persistence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
  11. Burstein, Ariel T., 2006. "Inflation and output dynamics with state-dependent pricing decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1235-1257, October.
  12. Eytan Sheshinski & Yoram Weiss (ed.), 1993. "Optimal Pricing, Inflation, and the Cost of Price Adjustment," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262193329, December.
  13. Arturo Extrella & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1998. "Dynamic inconsistencies: counterfactual implications of a class of rational expectations models," Working Papers 98-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  14. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1977. "Inflation and Costs of Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 287-303, June.
  15. Mariano Tommasi, 1992. "Inflation and Relative Prices Evidence from Argentina," UCLA Economics Working Papers 661, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. Caplin, A. & Leahy, J., 1992. "Aggregation and Optimization with State-Dependent Pricing," Discussion Papers 1992_15, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  17. Caplin, A. & Leahy, J., 1989. "State-Dependent Pricing And The Dynamics Of Money And Output," Discussion Papers 1989_32, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  18. Arellano, M, 1987. "Computing Robust Standard Errors for Within-Groups Estimators," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 431-34, November.
  19. Tsiddon, Daniel, 1991. "On the Stubbornness of Sticky Prices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(1), pages 69-75, February.
  20. Michael Dotsey & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "State-Dependent Pricing And The General Equilibrium Dynamics Of Money And Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 655-690, May.
  21. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1983. "Optimum Pricing Policy under Stochastic Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 513-29, July.
  22. Reinsdorf, Marshall, 1994. "New Evidence on the Relation between Inflation and Price Dispersion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 720-31, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Mario J. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani, 2006. "Persistence in Law-Of-One-Price Deviations: Evidence from Micro-Data," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0616, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  2. Erwan Gautier, 2009. "Les ajustements microéconomiques des prix : une synthèse des modèles théoriques et résultats empiriques," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 0(3), pages 323-372.
  3. Ross D. Hickey & David S. Jacks, 2011. "Nominal rigidities and retail price dispersion in Canada over the twentieth century," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 749-780, August.
  4. Mario J. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani & and Takayuki Tsuruga, 2008. "Accounting for Persistence and Volatility of Good-level Real Exchange Rates: The Role of Sticky Information," IMES Discussion Paper Series 08-E-05, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  5. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2009. "Why Is a Financial Crisis Important? The Significance of the Relaxation of the Assumption of Perfect Competition," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business, and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 8(2), pages 91-114, August.
  6. Virgiliu Midrigan, 2005. "Is Firm Pricing State or Time-Dependent? Evidence from US Manufacturing," Macroeconomics 0511005, EconWPA.
  7. Juliane Scharff & Sven Schreiber, 2012. "Evidence on the effects of inflation on price dispersion under indexation," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 291-311, August.
  8. Mustafa Caglayan & Alpay Filiztekin & Michael T. Rauh, 2006. "Inflation, Price Dispersion, and Market Structure," Working Papers 2006-03, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.

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