Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Asymmetric Price Adjustment "in the Small:" An Implication of Rational Inattention

Contents:

Author Info

  • Daniel Levy

    (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Haipeng Allan Chen

    (University of Miami)

  • Sourav Ray

    (McMaster University)

  • Mark Bergen

    (University of Minnesota)

Abstract

Analyzing scanner price data that cover 27 product categories over an eight-year period from a large Mid-western supermarket chain, we uncover a surprising regularity in the data—small price increases occur more frequently than small price decreases. We find that this asymmetry holds for price changes of up to about 10 cents, on average. The asymmetry disappears for larger price changes. We document this finding for the entire data set, as well as for individual product categories. Further, we find that the asymmetry holds even after excluding from the data the observations pertaining to inflationary periods, and after allowing for various lengths of lagged price adjustment. The findings are insensitive also to the measure of price level used to measure inflation (the PPI or the CPI). To explain these findings, we extend the implications of the literature on rational inattention to individual price dynamics. Specifically, we argue that processing and reacting to price change information is a costly activity. An important implication of rational inattention is that consumers may rationally choose to ignore—and thus not to respond to—small price changes, creating a “range of inattention” along the demand curve. This range of consumer inattention, we argue, gives the retailers incentive for asymmetric price adjustment “in the small.” These incentives, however, disappear for large price changes, because large price changes are processed by consumers and therefore trigger their response. Thus, no asymmetry is observed “in the large.” An additional implication of rational inattention is that the extent of the asymmetry found “in the small” might vary over the business cycle: it might diminish during recessions and strengthen during expansions. We find that the data are indeed consistent with these predictions. An added contribution of the paper is that our theory may offer a possible explanation for the presence of small price changes, which has been a long-standing puzzle in the literature.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mac/papers/0407/0407012.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 0407012.

as in new window
Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: 12 Jul 2004
Date of revision: 11 May 2005
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0407012

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 53
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Asymmetric Price Adjustment; Rational Inattention; Cost and Benefit of Information Acquiring and Processing; Price Rigidity;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
  2. Dutta, Shantanu, et al, 1999. "Menu Costs, Posted Prices, and Multiproduct Retailers," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(4), pages 683-703, November.
  3. Dennis W. Carlton, 1987. "The Rigidity of Prices," NBER Working Papers 1813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Inattentive Producers," CEPR Discussion Papers 5393, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 2005. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains," Macroeconomics 0505012, EconWPA.
  6. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2003. "Monetary Policy for Inattentive Economies," NBER Working Papers 9491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Meyer, Jochen & von Cramon-Taubadel, Stephan, 2002. "Asymmetric Price Transmission: A Survey," 2002 International Congress, August 28-31, 2002, Zaragoza, Spain 24822, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  8. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
  9. Warner, Elizabeth J & Barsky, Robert B, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-52, May.
  10. Baudry, L. & Le Bihan, H. & Sevestre, P. & Tarrieu, S., 2004. "Price Rigidity. Evidence from the French CPI Macro-Data," Working papers 113, Banque de France.
  11. Danziger, Leif, 1988. "Costs of Price Adjustment and the Welfare Economics of Inflation and Disinflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 633-46, September.
  12. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Reis, Ricardo, 2002. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," Scholarly Articles 3415324, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Caplin, A. & Leahy, J., 1989. "State-Dependent Pricing And The Dynamics Of Money And Output," Discussion Papers 1989_32, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  14. Adam, Klaus, 2007. "Optimal monetary policy with imperfect common knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 267-301, March.
  15. Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2002. "Heterogeneity in Price Rigidity: Evidence from a Case Study Using Micro-Level Data," Working Papers 2002-09, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  16. Kashyap, Anil K, 1995. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 245-74, February.
  17. Michael Woodford, 2001. "Imperfect Common Knowledge and the Effects of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 8673, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Robert Barsky & Christopher L. House & Miles Kimball, 2003. "Do Flexible Durable Goods Prices Undermine Sticky Price Models?," NBER Working Papers 9832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Kalyanaram, Gurumurthy & Little, John D C, 1994. " An Empirical Analysis of Latitude of Price Acceptance in Consumer Package Goods," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 408-18, December.
  20. Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy & Sourav Ray & Paul Rubin & Benjamin Zeliger, 2004. "When Little Things Mean a Lot: On the Inefficiency of Item Pricing Laws," Law and Economics 0405005, EconWPA, revised 02 Jun 2005.
  21. Robert Barsky & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Daniel Levy, 2002. "What Can the Price Gap between Branded and Private Label Products Tell Us about Markups?," Working Papers 2002-02, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  22. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1994. "A sticky-price manifesto," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Apr.
  23. Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen & Robert Venable, 2005. "Price Adjustment at Multiproduct Retailers," Industrial Organization 0505005, EconWPA.
  24. Caplin, Andrew S & Spulber, Daniel F, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-25, November.
  25. Gupta, Sunil & Cooper, Lee G, 1992. " The Discounting of Discounts and Promotion Thresholds," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 401-11, December.
  26. Burstein, Ariel T., 2006. "Inflation and output dynamics with state-dependent pricing decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1235-1257, October.
  27. Leif Danziger, 1998. "A Dynamic Economy with Costly Price Adjustment," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 83, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  28. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
  29. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
  30. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1994. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 247-61, March.
  31. Tobin, James, 1981. "Money and Finance in the Macro-Economic Process," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1981-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  32. George A. Akerlof, 2002. "Behavioral Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 411-433, June.
  33. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  34. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  35. Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy, 2002. "Price Flexibility in Channels of Distribution: Evidence from Scanner Data," Working Papers 2002-10, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  36. McCallum, Bennett T, 1986. "On "Real' and "Sticky-Price' Theories of the Business Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(4), pages 397-414, November.
  37. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2004. "The Absent-Minded Consumer," NBER Working Papers 10216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  39. Cecchetti, Stephen G., 1986. "The frequency of price adjustment : A study of the newsstand prices of magazines," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 255-274, April.
  40. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Price Rigidities and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 350-55, May.
  41. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  42. Haddock, David D & McChesney, Fred S, 1994. "Why Do Firms Contrive Shortages? The Economics of Intentional Mispricing," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(4), pages 562-81, October.
  43. Reis, Ricardo, 2006. "Inattentive consumers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1761-1800, November.
  44. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2002. "Customer Anger at Price Increases, Time Variation in the Frequency of Price Changes and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 9320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  45. Frank, Murray & Jagannathan, Ravi, 1998. "Why do stock prices drop by less than the value of the dividend? Evidence from a country without taxes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 161-188, February.
  46. Shugan, Steven M, 1980. " The Cost of Thinking," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(2), pages 99-111, Se.
  47. Saul Lach & Daniel Tsiddon, 1994. "Staggering and Synchronization in Price-Setting: Evidence from Multipro-duct Firms," NBER Working Papers 4759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  48. Sang Yong Kim & Richard Staelin, 1999. "Manufacturer Allowances and Retailer Pass-Through Rates in a Competitive Environment," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(1), pages 59-76.
  49. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas, 2003. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," NBER Working Papers 10187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  50. Grewal, Dhruv & Marmorstein, Howard, 1994. " Market Price Variation, Perceived Price Variation, and Consumers' Price Search Decisions for Durable Goods," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 453-60, December.
  51. Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "The (Mis)Behaviour of the Aggregate Price Level," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 889-902, October.
  52. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "A Near-rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Intertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 823-38, Supp..
  53. Saul Lach & Daniel Tsiddon, 2007. "Small price changes and menu costs," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 649-656.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0407012. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.