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Understanding Long-run Price Dispersion

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  • Mario J. Crucini
  • Hakan Yilmazkuday

Abstract

We use a unique panel of retail prices spanning 123 cities in 79 countries from 1990 to 2005, to uncover six novel properties of long-run international price dispersion. First, at the PPP level, virtually all (91.6%) of price dispersion is attributed to service-sector wages, consistent with a dominant role of the retail distribution margin. Second, at the level of individual goods and services, the average contribution of service-sector wages is significantly reduced, one-third as large (31.9%). This reflects the fact that good-specific sources of price dispersion, such as trade costs and good-specific markups, tend to average out across goods. Third, at the LOP level, borders and distance contribute about equally to price dispersion with distance elasticities consistent with the existing trade gravity literature which links trade volumes (rather than relative prices) to borders and distance. Fourth, in the cross-section, price dispersion is rising in the distribution share consistent with the notion that baby-sitting services and haircuts embody local wages to a far greater extent than highly traded manufactured goods. Fifth, we provide the first estimates of distribution margins at the micro-level and show them to be very different across goods and substantial in the aggregate, where they account for about 55% of consumption expenditure. Sixth, these estimates are broadly consistent with more aggregated U.S. NIPA measures currently used in the literature.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18811.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18811

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References

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  1. Mario Crucini & Chris Telmer & Marios Zachariadis, . "Understanding European Real Exchange Rates," GSIA Working Papers 227, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  2. Mario J. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani, 2006. "Persistence in Law-of-One-Price Deviations: Evidence from Micro-data," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000311, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski, 2007. "Pricing-to-market and the failure of absolute PPP," Working Papers 07-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Berthold Herrendorf & Akos Valentinyi, 2006. "Which Sectors Make the Poor Countries so Unproductive?," 2006 Meeting Papers 304, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Anthony Landry & Mario Crucini, 2010. "Accounting for Real Exchange Rates using Micro-Data," 2010 Meeting Papers 1100, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," Research Working Paper 95-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  7. George Alessandria, 2004. "International Deviations From The Law Of One Price: The Role Of Search Frictions And Market Share," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1263-1291, November.
  8. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
  9. Ariel Burstein & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2004. "Large Devaluations and the Real Exchange Rate," RCER Working Papers 513, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  10. Burstein, Ariel & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 2007. "Modeling exchange rate passthrough after large devaluations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 346-368, March.
  11. Mario J. Crucini & Hakan Yilmazkuday, 2009. "A model of international cities: implications for real exchange rates," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 38, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  12. Burstein, Ariel T. & Neves, Joao C. & Rebelo, Sergio, 2003. "Distribution costs and real exchange rate dynamics during exchange-rate-based stabilizations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1189-1214, September.
  13. Peter Kennedy, 2003. "A Guide to Econometrics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 026261183x, December.
  14. Sanyal, Kalyan K & Jones, Ronald W, 1982. "The Theory of Trade in Middle Products," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-31, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Neil Balchin, Lawrence Edwards and Asha Sundaram, 2014. "A Disaggregated Analysis of Product Price Integration in the Southern African Development Community," Working Papers 421, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  2. Ina Simonovska & Michael E. Waugh, 2011. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 16796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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