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Imperfect Price-Reversibility of U.S. Gasoline Demand: Asymmetric Responses to Price Increases and Declines

  • Dermot Gately
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    This paper describes a framework for analyzing the imperfect pricereversibility ("hysteresis") of oil demand. The oil demand reductions following the oil price increases of the 1970s will not be completely reversed by the price cuts of the 1980s, nor is it necessarily true that these partial demand reversals themselves will be reversed exactly by future price increases. We decompose price into three monotonic series: price increases to maximum historic levels, price cuts, and price recoveries (increases below historic highs). We would expect that the response to price cuts would be no greater than to price recoveries, which in turn would be no greater than for increases in maximum historic price. For evidence of imperfect price-reversibility, we test econometrically the following U.S. data: vehicle miles per driver, the fuel efficiency of the automobile fleet, and gasoline demand per driver. In each case, our econometric results allow us to reject the hypothesis of perfect price-reversibility. The data show smaller response to price cuts than to price increases. This has dramatic implications for projections of gasoline and oil demand, especially under low-price assumptions.

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    Article provided by International Association for Energy Economics in its journal The Energy Journal.

    Volume (Year): Volume 13 (1992)
    Issue (Month): Number 4 ()
    Pages: 179-208

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    Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1992v13-04-a10
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