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The pricing behaviour of Italian firms: new survey evidence on price stickiness

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  • Fabiani, Silvia
  • Gattulli, Angela
  • Sabbatini, Roberto

Abstract

This study examines price setting behaviour of Italian firms on the basis of the results of a survey conducted by Banca d’Italia in early 2003 on a sample of around 350 firms belonging to all economic sectors. Prices are mostly fixed following standard mark-up rules, although customer-specific characteristics have a role, in particular in manufacturing and services where price discrimination across customers matters. Rival prices mostly affect pricesetting strategies in industrial firms. In reviewing their prices, firms follow either state-dependent rules or a combination of time and state-dependent ones. Concerning the frequency of price adjustments, a considerable degree of stickiness emerges both at the stage in which firms evaluate their pricing strategies and the stage in which they actually implement the price change. In 2002 most firms changed their price only once. Three alternative explanations of nominal rigidity are ranked highest by the firms interviewed: explicit contracts, tacit collusive behaviour and the perception of the temporary nature of the shock. Prices respond asymmetrically to shocks, depending on the direction of the adjustment (positive vs negative) and the source of the shock (demand vs supply). Real rigidities – captured by the degree of market competition, customers’ search costs, the sensitivity of profits to changes in demand – play an important role in determining this asymmetry. Moreover, whereas cost shocks impact more when prices have to be raised than when they have to be reduced, demand decreases are more likely to induce a price change than demand increases. JEL Classification: E30, D40

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0333.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20040333

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Keywords: Inflation persistence; nominal rigidity; price-setting; real rigidity; survey data;

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  1. Martin, Christopher, 1993. "Price adjustment and market structure," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 139-143.
  2. Simon Hall & Anthony Yates, 1998. "Are there downward nominal rigidities in product markets?," Bank of England working papers 80, Bank of England.
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  9. Eugenio Gaiotti, 2004. "Pitfalls of monetary policy under incomplete information: imprecise indicators and real indeterminacy," Macroeconomics 0404017, EconWPA, revised 26 Apr 2004.
  10. Dennis W. Carlton, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," NBER Working Papers 1813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1987. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hall, Simon & Walsh, Mark & Yates, Anthony, 2000. "Are UK Companies' Prices Sticky?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 425-46, July.
  13. Apel, Mikael & Friberg, Richard & Hallsten, Kerstin, 2001. "Micro Foundations of Macroeconomic Price Adjustment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Firms," Working Paper Series 128, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  14. Alan S. Blinder, 1994. "On Sticky Prices: Academic Theories Meet the Real World," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 117-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Franco Mostacci & Roberto Sabbatini, 2003. "L 'euro ha creato inflazione? Changeover e arrotondamenti dei prezzi al consumo in Italia nel 2002," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 56(221), pages 45-95.
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