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Temporary Wholesale Gasoline Price Spikes Have Long-Lasting Retail Effects: The Aftermath of Hurricane Rita

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  • Matthew S. Lewis

Abstract

I study U.S. gasoline prices following Hurricane Rita to show that short-lived geographical differences in the severity of wholesale gasoline price spikes are associated with long-lasting geographical differences in retail prices. In most U.S. cities, wholesale prices spiked significantly for roughly 2 weeks following the hurricane. However, in cities where this spike was particularly large, retail margins remained higher than in other cities for nearly 2 months. High retail margins dissipated more quickly after the hurricane in cities where competition between stations tends to generate cyclical retail price fluctuations independent of wholesale cost movements. I discuss why prices may have fallen faster in cities exhibiting retail price cycles and present additional results identifying differences in market characteristics between cities with and without price cycles. I find that cycling cities tend to have higher population density and have independent (nonrefinery brand) stations that are more highly concentrated into large retail chains. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 52 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 581-605

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:3:p:581-605

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Sara Ellison & Christopher M. Snyder, 2014. "An Empirical Study of Pricing Strategies in an Online Market with High-Frequency Price Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 4655, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Mark J. Holmes & Jesus Otero & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2012. "On the dynamics of gasoline market integration in the United States: Evidence from a pair wise approach," Discussion Paper Series 2012_10, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Oct 2012.
  3. Paul Zimmerman & John Yun & Christopher Taylor, 2013. "Edgeworth Price Cycles in Gasoline: Evidence from the United States," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 297-320, May.
  4. Noel, Michael D., 2012. "Edgeworth Price Cycles and intertemporal price discrimination," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 942-954.
  5. Leufkens, Kasper & Peeters, Ronald, 2008. "Price dynamics and collusion under short-run price commitments," Research Memorandum 052, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  6. Jordi Perdiguero-García, 2010. "“Symmetric or asymmetric gasoline prices? A metaanalysis approach”," IREA Working Papers 201013, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Nov 2010.
  7. Juan Luis Jiménez & Jordi Perdiguero, 2013. "“One more lie: the ‘Monday effect’ in Spain’s retail petrol market”," IREA Working Papers 201324, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Dec 2013.
  8. Lewis, Matthew S., 2012. "Price leadership and coordination in retail gasoline markets with price cycles," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 342-351.
  9. Benjamin Atkinson, 2008. "On Retail Gasoline Pricing Websites: Potential Sample Selection Biases and Their Implications for Empirical Research," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 161-175, September.
  10. Fink, Jason D. & Fink, Kristin E. & Russell, Allison, 2010. "When and how do tropical storms affect markets? The case of refined petroleum," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1283-1290, November.
  11. David P.Byrne & Roger Ware, 2011. "Price Cycles and Price Leadership in Gasoline Markets: New Evidence from Canada," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1124, The University of Melbourne.
  12. Wills-Johnson, Nick & Bloch, Harry, 2010. "A simple spatial model for Edgeworth Cycles," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 334-336, September.

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