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Menu Costs and Markov Inflation: A Theoretical Revision with New Evidence

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  • Christian Ahlin

    ()
    (Department of Economics Vanderbilt University)

  • Mototsugu Shintani

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

We revisit a foundational theoretical paper in the menu cost literature, Sheshinski and Weiss (1983), one of the few to treat stochastic inflation with persistent deviations from trend. In contrast to the original finding, we find that optimal pricing in this environment entails using different (s,S) bands in high-inflation and low-inflation states of the world. The low-inflation band is strictly contained within the high-inflation band. This revised solution has very different implications from the original one. Firms are generally risk-loving, not risk-averse, with respect to inflation. An increase in the variance of inflation increases price dispersion when inflation is high and decreases price dispersion when inflation is low. On an aggregate level, this optimal pricing would lead to bunching of prices and non-neutrality of money in the setting of Caplin and Spulber (1987). To test the main finding, we construct an establishment-level dataset from the months surrounding Mexico's Tequila crisis, in 1995. In the high-inflation state, price increases are larger and establishments allow their prices to vary more widely around their respective long-run mean relative prices. Cross-establishment price dispersion is lower, but this result seems due to decreased establishment heterogeneity rather than narrower (s,S) bands. Overall, the evidence suggests that establishments employ wider (s,S) bands in the high-inflation state.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0610.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0610

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Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

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Keywords: (s; S) policy; neutrality of money; optimal pricing; regime switching;

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  1. Almeida, Heitor & Bonomo, Marco, 2002. "Optimal state-dependent rules, credibility, and inflation inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1317-1336, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2009. "Why Is a Financial Crisis Important? The Significance of the Relaxation of the Assumption of Perfect Competition," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business, and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 8(2), pages 91-114, August.
  2. Virgiliu Midrigan, 2005. "Is Firm Pricing State or Time-Dependent? Evidence from US Manufacturing," Macroeconomics 0511005, EconWPA.
  3. Juliane Scharff & Sven Schreiber, 2012. "Evidence on the effects of inflation on price dispersion under indexation," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 291-311, August.
  4. Gautier, E., 2008. "Les ajustements microéconomiques des prix : une synthèse des modèles théoriques et résultats empiriques," Working papers 211, Banque de France.
  5. Mario J. Crucini & Mototsugu Shintani & Takayuki Tsuruga, 2008. "Accounting for Persistence and Volatility of Good-Level Real Exchange Rates: The Role of Sticky Information," NBER Working Papers 14381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mustafa Caglayan & Alpay Filiztekin & Michael T. Rauh, 2006. "Inflation, Price Dispersion, and Market Structure," Working Papers 2006-03, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  7. 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.
  8. Ross D. Hickey & David S. Jacks, 2011. "Nominal rigidities and retail price dispersion in Canada over the twentieth century," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 749-780, August.

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