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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. Cavallo, Alberto & Rigobon, Roberto, 2011. "The Distribution of the Size of Price Changes," Working Papers 2011-011, Banco Central de Reserva del Perú.
  2. Mackowiak, Bartosz Adam & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2007. "Optimal Sticky Prices under Rational Inattention," CEPR Discussion Papers 6243, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rationally Inattentive Seller: Sales and Discrete Pricing," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp408, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  4. Martin Eichenbaum & Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2008. "Reference Prices and Nominal Rigidities," NBER Working Papers 13829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Fernando Alvarez & Francesco Lippi, 2013. "Price setting with menu cost for multi-product firms," EIEF Working Papers Series 1302, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Feb 2013.
  6. Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2009. "Price adjustments and inflation - evidence from Norwegian consumer price data 1975-2004," Working Paper 2009/11, Norges Bank.
  7. 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.
  8. Anil K. Kashyap, 1991. "Sticky prices: new evidence from retail catalogs," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Christian Hellwig & Ariel Burstein, 2007. "Prices and Market Shares in a Menu Cost Model," 2007 Meeting Papers 327, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  11. 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.
  12. Mark Gertler & John Leahy, 2006. "A Phillips Curve with an Ss Foundation," NBER Working Papers 11971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Fernando Alvarez & Francesco Lippi & Luigi Paciello, 2010. "Optimal Price Setting with Observation and Menu Costs," EIEF Working Papers Series 1010, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised May 2010.
  14. Mark Zbaracki & Mark Ritson & Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2004. "Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment: Direct Evidence from Industrial Markets," Macroeconomics 0402020, EconWPA.
  15. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2007. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 171-199.
  16. 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.
  17. Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Inattentive Producers," CEPR Discussion Papers 5393, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. 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.
  22. Saroj Bhattarai & Raphael Schoenle, 2010. "Multiproduct Firms and Price-Setting: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Producer Prices," Working Papers 1245, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  23. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Monopolistic Price Adjustment and Aggregate Output," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 517-31, October.
  24. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Benjamin Eden, 2014. "Rigid Prices: Evidence From U.S. Scanner Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 423-442, 05.
  25. Barro, Robert J, 1972. "A Theory of Monopolistic Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 17-26, January.
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