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Gasoline and crude oil prices: why the asymmetry?

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  • Stephen P. A. Brown
  • Mine K. Yücel

Abstract

Many consumers complain that gasoline and crude oil prices have an asymmetric relationship in which gasoline prices raise more quickly when crude oil prices are rising than they fall when crude oil prices are falling. Many also regard the asymmetry they observe as evidence of market power in the petroleum industry. Most previous research provides econometric evidence of the asymmetry, confirming at least part of what consumers suspect. In this article Stephen Brown and Mine Yucel extend the inquiry by examining the market conditions underlying the asymmetric relationship between gasoline and crude oil prices. They find the observed asymmetry is unlikely to be the result of monopoly power. The remaining explanations for the asymmetry suggest that policies to prevent an asymmetric relationship between gasoline and crude oil prices are likely to reduce economic efficiency.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): (2000)
Issue (Month): Q3 ()
Pages: 23-29

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedder:y:2000:i:q3:p:23-29

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  1. Jeffrey D. Karrenbrock, 1991. "The behavior of retail gasoline prices: symmetric or not?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 19-29.
  2. Severin Borenstein, 1991. "Selling Costs and Switching Costs: Explaining Retail Gasoline Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 354-369, Autumn.
  3. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
  4. Severin Boreinstein & Andrea Shepard, 1996. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 429-451, Autumn.
  5. Reagan, Patricia B. & Weitzman, Martin L., 1982. "Asymmetries in price and quantity adjustments by the competitive firm," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 410-420, August.
  6. Nathan S. Balke & Stephen P. A. Brown & Mine Yücel, 1998. "Crude oil and gasoline prices: an asymmetric relationship?," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q 1, pages 2-11.
  7. Reagan, Patricia B, 1982. "Inventory and Price Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 137-42, January.
  8. Neumark, David & Sharpe, Steven A, 1992. "Market Structure and the Nature of Price Rigidity: Evidence from the Market for Consumer Deposits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 657-80, May.
  9. Borenstein, Severin & Cameron, A Colin & Gilbert, Richard, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-39, February.
  10. Bacon, Robert W., 1991. "Rockets and feathers: the asymmetric speed of adjustment of UK retail gasoline prices to cost changes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 211-218, July.
  11. John Haltiwanger & Joseph E. Harrington Jr., 1991. "The Impact of Cyclical Demand Movements on Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 89-106, Spring.
  12. Samarendu Mohanty & E. Wesley F. Peterson & Nancy Cottrell Kruse, 1995. "Price Asymmetry in the International Wheat Market," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 43(3), pages 355-366, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Nigel Driffield & Christos Ioannidis & David Peel, 2003. "Some Further Empirical Evidence on the Impact of Oil Price Changes on Petrol Prices," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 195-203.
  2. Axel Dreher & Tim Krieger, 2005. "Do gasoline prices converge in a unified Europe with non-harmonized tax rates?," KOF Working papers 05-114, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  3. Linda A. Toolsema & Jan P. A. M. Jacobs, 2007. "Why do prices rise faster than they fall? With an application to mortgage rates," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 701-712.
  4. Marc Hofstetter & Jorge Tovar, 2010. "Common Knowledge Reference Price and Asymmetric Price Adjustments," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-159, September.
  5. Stanislav Radchenko, 2004. "Anticipated and unanticipated effects of crude oil prices and oil inventory changes on gasoline prices," Microeconomics 0406001, EconWPA.
  6. Stanislav Radchenko, 2004. "Oil price volatility and the asymmetric response of gasoline prices to oil price increases and decreases," Industrial Organization 0408001, EconWPA.
  7. Afshin Honarvar, 2010. "Modeling of Asymmetry between Gasoline and Crude Oil Prices: A Monte Carlo Comparison," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 36(3), pages 237-262, October.
  8. John Michael Ian S. Salas, 2002. "Price Adjustments and Asymmetry in the Philippine Retail Gasoline Market," Industrial Organization 0209001, EconWPA.
  9. Al-Gudhea, Salim & Kenc, Turalay & Dibooglu, Sel, 2007. "Do retail gasoline prices rise more readily than they fall?: A threshold cointegration approach," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 560-574.
  10. Valadkhani, Abbas, 2009. "Do Retail Petrol Prices Rise More Rapidly Than They Fall in Australia’s Capital Cities?," Economics Working Papers wp09-08, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
  11. Mario Denni & G. Frewer, 2006. "New evidence on the relationship beetween crude oil and petroleum product prices," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0061, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  12. Marc Hofstetter & Jorge Tovar, 2007. "Asymmetric Price Adjustments Under Ever-Increasing Costs. Evidence from the Retail Gasoline Market in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005146, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  13. Jalonoja, Kati & Liu, Xing & Pietola, Kyosti, 2006. "Asymmetric Transmission of Price Information Between the Meat Market of Finland and Other EU Countries - Testing for Signals on Oligopolistic Behaviour," Discussion Papers 11861, MTT Agrifood Research Finland.
  14. Kuper, Gerard H., 2012. "Inventories and upstream gasoline price dynamics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 208-214.
  15. Honarvar, Afshin, 2009. "Asymmetry in retail gasoline and crude oil price movements in the United States: An application of hidden cointegration technique," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 395-402, May.

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