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Price Distortion and Shortage Deformation, or What Happened to the Soap?


  • Weitzman, Martin L


The model of this paper generalizes the classical theory of consumer behavior to the more general case of prices that are not necessarily market-clearing. Suppose that, in addition to the money cost, some sort of search, waiting, or other quasi-fixed "effort cost" is needed to obtain goods. The presence of this quasi-fixed cost element will trigger an inventory policy. A shortage equilibrium occurs when effort costs are such that, in the corresponding inventory policy, the flow of desired consumption does not exceed the available supply flow. Stock hoarding, a critical phenomenon in the economics of shortage, emerges as a natural component of this model. A complete characterization of a stationary shortage equilibrium is given. Comparative statics and welfare analysis are performed. The dynamic transition between steady states is analyzed to give insight into the mechanics of how shortages develop. Copyright 1991 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Weitzman, Martin L, 1991. "Price Distortion and Shortage Deformation, or What Happened to the Soap?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 401-414, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:81:y:1991:i:3:p:401-14

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. John P. Formby & W. James Smith & David Sykes, 1986. "Income Redistribution and Local Tax Progressivity: A Reconsideration," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(4), pages 807-811, November.
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    9. Pak-Wai Liu, 1985. "Lorenz Domination and Global Tax Progressivity," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(2), pages 395-399, May.
    10. Kakwani, Nanak C, 1977. "Applications of Lorenz Curves in Economic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(3), pages 719-727, April.
    11. G. Hanoch & H. Levy, 1969. "The Efficiency Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 335-346.
    12. Piggott, John, 1982. "The Social Marginal Valuation of Income: Australian Estimates from Government Behaviour," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 58(160), pages 92-99, March.
    13. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeremy Clark & Bonggeun Kim, 2006. "Differential Time and Money Pricing as a Mechanism for In-kind Redistribution," Working Papers in Economics 06/07, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    2. Berkowitz, Daniel, 1996. "On the persistence of rationing following liberalization: A theory for economies in transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1259-1279, June.
    3. Don Bredin & Keith Cuthbertson, 2002. "Liquidity effects and precautionary saving in the Czech Republic," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(6), pages 405-413.
    4. Antoni Chawluk, 2000. "Estimates of Demand for Money and Consumption Functions for the Household Sector in Poland, 1967-1999," Economics Series Working Papers 42, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Bennett, John & Dixon, Huw David, 1995. "Macroeconomic equilibrium and reform in a transitional economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1465-1485, October.
    6. Sònia Muñoz, 2006. "Suppressed Inflation and Money Demand in Zimbabwe," IMF Working Papers 06/15, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Goldberg, Linda S. & Karimov, Il'dar, 1997. "Black markets for currency, hoarding activity and policy reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-4), pages 349-369, May.
    8. Alexeev, Michael & Sabyr, Lyaziza, 2004. "Black markets and pre-reform crises in former socialist economies," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-12, March.
    9. Huizinga, Harry, 1995. "The political economy of price ceilings for necessities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 443-454, August.
    10. Berkowitz, Daniel & DeJong, David N. & Husted, Steven, 1998. "Quantifying Price Liberalization in Russia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 735-760, December.
    11. Linda S. Goldberg & Il'dar Karimov, 1992. "Black-Markets for Currency, Hoarding Activity and Currency Reform," NBER Working Papers 4153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Alexeev, Michael & Leitzel, James, 2001. "Income distribution and price controls: Targeting a social safety net during economic transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1647-1663, October.
    13. Leitzel, Jim, 1998. "Goods Diversion and Repressed Inflation: Notes on the Political Economy of Price Liberalization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 255-266, March.
    14. Jeremy Clark & Bonggeun Kim, 2007. "Paying vs. waiting in the pursuit of specific egalitarianism," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 486-512, July.
    15. Daniel Berkowitz & David DeJong & Steven Husted, 1997. "Transition in Russia: It's Happening," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 33, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

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