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Are "Rockets and Feathers" Caused by Search or Informational Frictions

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  • Ralph-C Bayer
  • Changxia Ke

Abstract

Prices usually adjust much faster when costs increase than when costs decrease. The mechanism driving this "Rockets-and-Feathers" phenomenon is not well understood despite of ample empirical evidence for its existence. We use simple experimental markets with and without consumer search and either privately or publicly observed cost shocks to study this puzzle. In contrast to the theoretical predictions, we observe price dispersion and asymmetric price adjustment in all four settings. We attribute the pricing behavior to bounded rationality and its interaction with adaptive expectations. We conclude that neither search costs nor private information are indispensable for prices to adjust asymmetrically.

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File URL: http://www.tax.mpg.de/RePEc/mpi/wpaper/Tax-MPG-RPS-2011-12.pdf
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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in its series Working Papers with number are_rockets_and_feathers_caused_by_search_or_informational_frictions.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:are_rockets_and_feathers_caused_by_search_or_informational_frictions

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Related research

Keywords: Asymmetric Price Adjustment; Price Dispersion; Adaptive Search; Bounded Rationality;

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  1. Grether, David M & Schwartz, Alan & Wilde, Louis L, 1988. "Uncertainty and Shopping Behaviour: An Experimental Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 323-42, April.
  2. Bacon, Robert W., 1991. "Rockets and feathers: the asymmetric speed of adjustment of UK retail gasoline prices to cost changes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 211-218, July.
  3. Galeotti, Marzio & Lanza, Alessandro & Manera, Matteo, 2003. "Rockets and feathers revisited: an international comparison on European gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 175-190, March.
  4. Matthew S. Lewis & Howard P. Marvel, 2011. "When Do Consumers Search?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 457-483, 09.
  5. Duffy-Deno, Kevin T., 1996. "Retail price asymmetries in local gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1-2), pages 81-92, April.
  6. David, Douglas D & Holt, Charles A, 1996. "Consumer Search Costs and Market Performance," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 133-51, January.
  7. repec:cdl:compol:23177 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. 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.
  9. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  10. Martin Sefton & Abdullah Yavas & Eric Abrams, 2000. "An experimental comparison of two search models," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 735-749.
  11. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687.
  12. Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
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