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Sticky prices: what is the evidence?

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  • Mark A. Wynne

Abstract

This article reviews the idea that sticky prices are important for understanding business cycles. Mark Wynne begins with a critical survey of the literature documenting the stylized facts about prices in individual markets. His first point is that there is remarkably little evidence that the actual transactions prices of most products are, in fact, sticky. Such evidence as there is to support the notion of widespread price stickiness is heavily biased toward low-tech products that account for a very small fraction of total output and is a thin reed on which to base a theory of business fluctuations. Furthermore, the observation that posted prices do not change very frequently cannot always be interpreted as evidence that markets are not clearing. There is some evidence to suggest that frequently firms alter product characteristics other than price to allocate goods and services, and that these changes in product characteristics are unobserved. ; In view of the difficulty in interpreting whether prices are at other than market-clearing values, Wynne argues that the only true test of a model in which price stickiness plays a major role in explaining business cycles is to look at how well it explains the cyclical phenomena it is supposed to explain. One simple test of a model along these lines consists of looking at the various correlations generated by the model and comparing them with the data. Wynne reviews some recent attempts along these lines and concludes that, while there may be some role for price stickiness in explaining business cycles in the U.S. economy, the case remains unproven.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its journal Economic and Financial Policy Review.

Volume (Year): (1995)
Issue (Month): Q I ()
Pages: 1-12

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedder:y:1995:i:qi:p:1-12

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Keywords: Business cycles ; Prices;

References

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  1. Murray Foss, 1993. "Does Government Regulation Inhibit the Reporting of Transactions Prices by Business?," NBER Chapters, in: Price Measurements and Their Uses, pages 275-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1994. "A sticky-price manifesto," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 127-151, December.
  3. Gordon, Robert J, 1990. "What Is New-Keynesian Economics?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 1115-71, September.
  4. Cecchetti, Stephen G., 1986. "The frequency of price adjustment : A study of the newsstand prices of magazines," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 255-274, April.
  5. Alan S. Blinder, 1991. "Why are Prices Sticky? Preliminary Results from an Interview Study," NBER Working Papers 3646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eden, Benjamin, 1993. "Inflation and Price Adjustment: An Analysis of Micro Data," Working Papers 94-13, University of Iowa, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
  7. Carlton, Dennis W., 1989. "The theory and the facts of how markets clear: Is industrial organization valuable for understanding macroeconomics?," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 909-946 Elsevier.
  8. Rockoff,Hugh, 1984. "Drastic Measures," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521244961.
  9. Lee E. Ohanian & Alan C. Stockman, 1994. "Short-run effects on money when some prices are sticky," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 1-24.
  10. Koelln, K. & Rush, M., 1990. "Rigid Prices And Flexible Products," Papers 90-1, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  11. George J. Stigler & James K. Kindahl, 1970. "The Behavior of Industiral Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stig70-1, octubre-d.
  12. Cho, Jang-Ok & Cooley, Thomas F, 1995. "The Business Cycle with Nominal Contracts," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 13-33, June.
  13. Kashyap, Anil K, 1995. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 245-74, February.
  14. 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.
  15. Mark A. Wynne & Fiona Sigalla, 1993. "A survey of measurement biases in price indexes," Research Paper 9340, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  16. Finn E. Kydland, 1989. "The role of money in a business cycle model," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 23, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Barro, Robert J., 1977. "Long-term contracting, sticky prices, and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 305-316, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Luca Dedola & Sylvain Leduc, 2001. "Why Is the Business-Cycle Behavior of Fundamentals Alike Across Exchange-Rate Regimes?," Working Papers 53, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  2. Luca Dedola & Sylvain Leduc, 2002. "Why are business cycles alike across exchange-rate regimes?," Working Papers 02-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Renner, Elke & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Price rigidity in customer markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 575-593, December.
  4. Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy, 2004. "Price Flexibility in Channels of Distribution: Evidence from Scanner Data," Macroeconomics 0402018, EconWPA.
  5. Marco A. Espinosa-Vega & Steven Russell, 1997. "History and theory of the NAIRU: a critical review," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 4-25.
  6. Alexander L. Wolman, 2007. "The frequency and costs of individual price adjustment," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 531-552.
  7. Ana-Maria Fuertes & Shelagh A. Heffernan, 2009. "Interest rate transmission in the UK: a comparative analysis across financial firms and products," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 45-63.

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