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Understanding how price responds to costs and production

  • Bils, Mark
  • Chang, Yongsung

The importance of sticky prices in business cycle fluctuations has been debated for many years. But we argue, based on a large empirical literature from the 1950's and 60's, that it is necessary to distinguish the response of price to an increase in factor prices from its response to an increase in marginal cost generated by an expansion in production. Consistent with that earlier literature, we find for 450 U.S. manufacturing industries that prices do respond more to increases in costs driven by changes in factor prices than to increases in marginal cost precipitated by expansions in output. We explore two models that can potentially explain these findings. Both break the link between price and marginal cost, thereby generating what one might naively interpret as average-cost pricing. The first is driven by firms pricing to limit entry. The second is driven by firms pricing to limit non-price competition within their market.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 52 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 33-77

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Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:52:y:2000:i:1:p:33-77
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jme

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  1. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-83, April.
  2. 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.).
  3. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Relation Between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," NBER Working Papers 1785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert E. Lucas & Jr., 1967. "Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 321.
  5. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-55, December.
  6. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Monopolistic Price Adjustment and Aggregate Output," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 517-31, October.
  7. repec:att:wimass:9116 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1991. "Markups and the Business Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 63-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Shea, John, 1993. "Do Supply Curves Slope Up?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 1-32, February.
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