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How Frequent Are Small Price Changes?

  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • Nir Jaimovich
  • Sergio Rebelo
  • Josephine Smith

Recent empirical work suggests that small price changes are relatively common. This evidence has been used to criticize classic menu-cost models. In this paper, we use scanner data from a national supermarket chain and micro data from the Consumer Price Index to reassess the importance of small price changes. We argue that the vast majority of these changes are due to measurement error. We conclude that the evidence on the prevalence of small price changes is much too weak to be used as a litmus test of nominal rigidity models.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 137-55

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:137-55
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.6.2.137
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-macro
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  1. F. Alvarez & F. Lippi & L. Paciello, 2010. "Optimal price setting with observation and menu costs," 2010 Meeting Papers 478, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Monopolistic Price Adjustment and Aggregate Output," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 517-31, October.
  3. Saroj Bhattarai & Raphael Schoenle, 2010. "Multiproduct Firms and Price-Setting: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Producer Prices," Working Papers 15, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
  4. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2010. "Product Creation and Destruction: Evidence and Price Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 691-723, June.
  5. Fernando E. Alvarez & Francesco Lippi, 2012. "Price Setting with menu cost for Multi-product firms," NBER Working Papers 17923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bartosz Mackowiak & Mirko Wiederholt, 2004. "Optimal Sticky Prices under Rational Inattention," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-040, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, revised Jul 2005.
  7. 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.
  8. Anil K. Kashyap, 1990. "Sticky prices: new evidence from retail catalogs," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 112, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Ariel Burstein & Christian Hellwig, 2007. "Prices and Market Shares in a Menu Cost Model," NBER Working Papers 13455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  11. Ben Eden & Jeff Campbell, 2004. "Rigid Prices: Evidence from US scanner data," 2004 Meeting Papers 461, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. 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.
  13. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
  14. Cavallo, Alberto & Rigobon, Roberto, 2011. "The Distribution of the Size of Price Changes," Working Papers 2011-011, Banco Central de Reserva del Perú.
  15. Martin Eichenbaum & Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2008. "Reference Prices and Nominal Rigidities," NBER Working Papers 13829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rationally Inattentive Seller: Sales and Discrete Pricing," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp408, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  17. Mark Gertler & John Leahy, 2008. "A Phillips Curve with an Ss Foundation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 533-572, 06.
  18. Barro, Robert J, 1972. "A Theory of Monopolistic Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 17-26, January.
  19. Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2009. "Price adjustments and inflation - evidence from Norwegian consumer price data 1975-2004," Working Paper 2009/11, Norges Bank.
  20. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky information versus sticky prices: a proposal to replace the New-Keynesian Phillips curve," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  21. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas, 2003. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," NBER Working Papers 10187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Mark Zbaracki & Mark Ritson & Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2003. "Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment: Direct Evidence from Industrial Markets," Working Papers 2003-07, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  23. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Customer anger at price increases, changes in the frequency of price adjustment and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 829-852, May.
  24. Ricardo Reis, 2005. "Inattentive Producers," 2005 Meeting Papers 290, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  25. 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.
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