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Do Edgeworth price cycles lead to higher or lower prices?

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  • Noel, Michael D.

Abstract

A recent literature seeks to understand the causes of the high-frequency, asymmetric retail price cycles observed in many retail gasoline markets. However, much less attention has been given to the effects of the cycles, in particular, whether the cycles lead to higher or lower prices and margins. The leading theory for the underlying cause of the price cycles, Edgeworth price cycles, is silent on the issue. The challenge in addressing this most important question has been the difficulty in isolating cycle effects from other confounding factors, especially market structure. In this article, I exploit a unique natural experiment to isolate the effect of cycles — a refinery fire that, in a matter of days, halted cycles that had previously persisted for decades. I find that Edgeworth price cycles lead to lower prices and lower margins. I conclude with implications for competition policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Noel, Michael D., 2015. "Do Edgeworth price cycles lead to higher or lower prices?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 81-93.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:42:y:2015:i:c:p:81-93
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2015.07.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Crosetto, P. & Gaudeul, A., 2014. "Choosing whether to compete: Price and format competition with consumer confusion," Working Papers 2014-08, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    2. Dewenter Ralf & Schwalbe Ulrich, 2016. "Preisgarantien im Kraftstoffmarkt," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(3), pages 276-288, September.
    3. Dewenter, Ralf & Linder, Melissa & Schwalbe, Ulrich, 2017. "Preiszyklen im Kraftstoffmarkt - Wettbewerb oder Kollusives Verhalten?," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168246, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Edgeworth price cycles; Retail gasoline; Price effects; Margin effects; Natural experiment; Competition policy;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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