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Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence

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  • Chevalier, Judith A
  • Scharfstein, David S

Abstract

During recessions, output prices seem to rise relative to wages and raw-material prices. One explanation is that imperfectly competitive firms compete less aggressively during recessions. That is, markups of price over marginal cost are countercyclical. The authors present a model of countercyclical markups based on capital-market imperfections. During recessions, liquidity-constrained firms boost short-run profits by raising prices to cut their investments in market share. The authors provide evidence from the supermarket industry in support of this theory. During regional and macroeconomic recessions, more financially constrained supermarket chains raise their prices relative to less financially constrained chains. Copyright 1996 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Chevalier, Judith A & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 703-725, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:86:y:1996:i:4:p:703-25
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