Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market
AbstractIt has been documented that retail gasoline prices respond more quickly to increases in wholesale price than to decreases. However, there is very little theoretical or empirical evidence identifying the market characteristics responsible for this behavior. This paper presents a new theoretical model of asymmetric adjustment that empirically matches observed retail gasoline price behavior better than previously suggested explanations. I develop a â€œreference priceâ€ consumer search model that assumes consumersâ€™ expectations of prices are based on prices observed during previous purchases. The model predicts that consumers search less when prices are falling. This reduced search results in higher profit margins and a slower price response to cost changes than when margins are low and prices are increasing. Following the predictions of the theory, I use a panel of gas station prices to estimate the response pattern of prices to a change in costs. Unlike previous empirical studies I focus on how profit margins (in addition to the direction of the cost change) affect the speed of price response. Estimates are consistent with the predictions of the reference price search model, and appear to contradict previously suggested explanations of asymmetric adjustment.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt9pv2d9fn.
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: F502 Haas, Berkeley CA 94720-1922
Phone: (510) 642-1922
Fax: (510) 642-5018
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/iber_cpc/
More information through EDIRC
Asymmetric; Consumer Search; Gasoline; Price; Asymmetric Adjustment; Cointegration; Error Correction; Dynamic; Response;
Other versions of this item:
- Matthew S. Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 409-449, 06.
- Matt Lewis, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Industrial Organization 0407010, EconWPA.
- L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Salop, Steven & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977.
"Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510, October.
- Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and ripoffs: a model of monopolistically competitive price dispersion," Special Studies Papers 94, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron, 1992.
"Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?,"
NBER Working Papers
4138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Kiviet, Jan F, 1986. "On the Rigour of Some Misspecification Tests for Modelling Dynamic Relationships," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 241-61, April.
- Daniel S. Putler, 1992. "Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 287-309.
- Duffy-Deno, Kevin T., 1996. "Retail price asymmetries in local gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1-2), pages 81-92, April.
- Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
- Engle, Robert F & Granger, Clive W J, 1987. "Co-integration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation, and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 251-76, March.
- Rob, Rafael, 1985. "Equilibrium Price Distributions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 487-504, July.
- Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
- Enders, Walter & Granger, Clive W J, 1998.
"Unit-Root Tests and Asymmetric Adjustment with an Example Using the Term Structure of Interest Rates,"
Journal of Business & Economic Statistics,
American Statistical Association, vol. 16(3), pages 304-11, July.
- Enders, Walter & Granger, C. W. J., 1998. "Unit Root Tests and Asymmetric Adjustment with an Example Using the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Staff General Research Papers 1388, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 689-711, July/Aug..
- Benabou, Roland & Gertner, Robert, 1993. "Search with Learning from Prices: Does Increased Inflationary Uncertainty Lead to Higher Markups?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 69-94, January.
- Hastings, Justine, 2000. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: An Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt0bw767hm, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1994.
"Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 247-61, March.
- Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1994. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 4089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ball, L. & Mankiw, N.G., 1992. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1602, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Gurumurthy Kalyanaram & Russell S. Winer, 1995. "Empirical Generalizations from Reference Price Research," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(3_supplem), pages G161-G169.
- Barry K. Goodwin & Matthew T. Holt, 1999. "Price Transmission and Asymmetric Adjustment in the U.S. Beef Sector," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(3), pages 630-637.
- Ronald Johnson, 2002. "Search Costs, Lags and Prices at the Pump," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 33-50, February.
- Sam Peltzman, 1998.
"Prices Rise Faster Than They Fall,"
University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State
142, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-56, September.
- James M. O'Brien, 2000. "Estimating the value and interest rate risk of interest-bearing transactions deposits," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.