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Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness

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  • Sbordone, Argia

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Rutgers University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the predictions of a simple optimizing model of nominal price rigidity for the aggregate price level and the dynamics of inflation. I compare the model's predictions with those of a perfectly competitive, flexible price 'benchmark' model (corresponding to the model of pricing assumed in standard real business cycle models), and evaluate how much the introduction of nominal rigidities improves the model's fit with the data. The model's predictions are derived using only the firms optimal pricing problem; taken as given the path of nominal labor compensation, labor productivity and output, I determine the implied path of prices predicted by the model. Because prices are not a stationary series, I present my results in terms of the predicted path of the price/unit labor cost ratio, where the parameters characterizing such paths are chosen to maximize the fit with the data. I find that while the evolution of prices relative to unit labor costs is quite different from what would be predicted by the flexible-price 'benchmark' model, a simple model of nominal price rigidity delivers an extremely close approximation both of the price/unit labor cost ratio and of the inflation series, even under a very simple approach to the measurement of marginal costs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies in its series Seminar Papers with number 653.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 01 Oct 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Monetary Economics, 2002, pages 265-292.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0653

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Postal: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-162000
Fax: +46-8-161443
Web page: http://www.iies.su.se/
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Keywords: Sticky prices; Inflation dynamics; Phillips curve; Real marginal cost;

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References

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  1. Sbordone, Argia M., 1996. "Cyclical productivity in a model of labor hoarding," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 331-361, October.
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  8. Robert G. King & Mark W. Watson, 1995. "Money, prices, interest rates and the business cycle," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
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  11. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
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  25. John Y. Campbell, Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 1(3), pages 195-228.
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  27. Julio Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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