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Dynamics of the U.S. price distribution

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  • Berger, David
  • Vavra, Joseph

Abstract

We use microdata underlying U.S. consumer, producer and import price indices to document how the distribution of price changes evolves over time. Two striking features characterize pricing across all three datasets: (1) Frequency of price adjustments is countercyclical. (2) Frequency of price adjustments is correlated with variance. Conversely, other statistics that have received recent attention, like kurtosis, do not exhibit uniform patterns across our data sets. What implications do our empirical results have for monetary policy? Using a flexible accounting framework that collapses the high-dimensional distribution of price changes into a single measure of aggregate price flexibility, we show that flexibility is highly variable and countercyclical.

Suggested Citation

  • Berger, David & Vavra, Joseph, 2018. "Dynamics of the U.S. price distribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 60-82.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:60-82
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2018.01.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido & Nicolas Vincent, 2013. "Individual Price Adjustment along the Extensive Margin," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 235-281.
    2. repec:eee:moneco:v:101:y:2019:i:c:p:82-99 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta†Eksten & Stephen J. Terry, 2018. "Really Uncertain Business Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(3), pages 1031-1065, May.
    4. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Price Rigidity: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 133-163, May.
    5. Ruediger Bachmann & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2011. "Business Cycles and Endogenous Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Nicoletta Berardi & Erwan Gautier & Hervé Le Bihan, 2015. "More Facts about Prices: France Before and During the Great Recession," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(8), pages 1465-1502, December.
    7. Joseph Vavra, 2011. "Inflation Dynamics and Time-Varying Uncertainty: New Evidence and an Ss Interpretation," 2011 Meeting Papers 126, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom, 2013. "Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments," CEP Discussion Papers dp1243, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    9. Bachmann, Rüdiger & Born, Benjamin & Elstner, Steffen & Grimme, Christian, 2019. "Time-varying business volatility and the price setting of firms," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 82-99.
    10. Can Tian, 2012. "Riskiness Choice and Endogenous Productivity Dispersion over the Business Cycle," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    11. Gopinath, Gita & Itskhoki, Oleg & Neiman, Brent, 2012. "Trade Prices and the Global Trade Collapse of 2008–09," Scholarly Articles 11988099, Harvard University Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price dispersion; Price rigidity; Price distributions; Uncertainty; Business cycles; Inflation;

    JEL classification:

    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure

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