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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. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: a comparison," Staff Report 227, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. 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.
  3. Rotemberg, Julio J. & Woodford, Michael, 1999. "The cyclical behavior of prices and costs," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 1051-1135 Elsevier.
  4. Argia M. Sbordone, 2001. "An Optimizing Model of U.S. Wage and Price Dynamics," Departmental Working Papers 200110, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
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  6. Arturo Estrella & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 2002. "Dynamic Inconsistencies: Counterfactual Implications of a Class of Rational-Expectations Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1013-1028, September.
  7. 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.
  8. Francis X. Diebold & Lee E. Ohanian & Jeremy Berkowitz, 1998. "Dynamic equilibrium economies: a framework for comparing models and data," Staff Report 243, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Campbell, John & Shiller, Robert, 1987. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Scholarly Articles 3122490, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  11. John M. Roberts, 1994. "Is inflation sticky?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 152, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "Sticky prices, marginal cost, and the behavior of inflation," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 29-48.
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  15. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell, 1986. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 812, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  16. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  17. 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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  25. repec:nbr:nberre:0126 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
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