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Fair Pricing

  • Julio J. Rotemberg

I suppose that consumers see a firm as fair if they cannot reject the hypothesis that the firm is somewhat benevolent towards them. Consumers that can reject this hypothesis become angry, which is costly to the firm. I show that firms that wish to avoid this anger will keep their prices rigid under some circumstances when prices would vary under more standard assumptions. The desire to appear benevolent can also lead firms to practice both third-degree and intertemporal price discrimination. Thus, the observation of temporary sales is consistent with my model of fair prices. The model can also explain why prices seem to be more responsive to changes in factor costs than to changes in demand that have the same effect on marginal cost, why increases in inflation seem to affect mostly the frequency of price adjustment without having sizeable effects on the size of price increases and why firms often announce their intent to increase prices in advance of actually doing so.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1542-4774.2011.01036.x
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Article provided by European Economic Association in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 9 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 952-981

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:9:y:2011:i:5:p:952-981
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  1. Vaidyanathan, Rajiv & Aggarwal, Praveen, 2003. "Who is the fairest of them all? An attributional approach to price fairness perceptions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 453-463, June.
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  13. Dickson, Peter R. & Kalapurakal, Rosemary, 1994. "The use and perceived fairness of price-setting rules in the bulk electricity market," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 427-448, September.
  14. Haddock, David D & McChesney, Fred S, 1994. "Why Do Firms Contrive Shortages? The Economics of Intentional Mispricing," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(4), pages 562-81, October.
  15. Benabou, Roland, 1989. "Optimal Price Dynamics and Speculation with a Storable Good," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(1), pages 41-80, January.
  16. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "Competition and the Number of Firms in a Market: Are Duopolies More Competitive than Atomistic Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1041-61, October.
  17. Frey, Bruno S. & Pommerehne, Werner W., 1993. "On the fairness of pricing -- An empirical survey among the general population," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 295-307, April.
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